Marcel “Marty” Anderson, 57, has found a home in a world of 64 squares.
“Chess is the only outlet I got,” he said. “It’s a lot like our lives. Both have a beginning, middle and end.”
Anderson first moved to New York to pursue acting when he was 27. But after countless jobs, he found himself in jail at Rikers Island. A year later, he was released. Now, he plays chess with passersby in Washington Square Park to make a living.
Along with chess, Anderson sells cigarettes for a dollar, and occasionally weed.
“I don’t like selling cigarettes,” Anderson said. “I feel like I’m putting the needle in their hand, not in their veins, but in their hand. I might as well be giving them the crack and I feel bad about that.”
Every morning around 5:30, Marty leaves his house in the Bronx, to travel about an hour and a half to Greenwich Village to stake his claim on a chess table. Sometimes, he makes $100 a day, other times, $20.
“I lose on purpose, because if I beat them too much, their ego gets hurt and I don’t make as much.”
As colder weather looms, Marty visits the park less, but he hopes to make enough to get through the winter.