Chess is, by reputation, a game for super-bright, socially dysfunctional nerds. Scratch the surface, however, and you'll uncover a world of seething passion, nightclub violence and exotic dancers
I came in search of Brazilian dancing girls, sex, violence and castling. So far, I have found only the castling. Before me, in the Golden Lane Community Hall, in central London, stretch 22 chess boards, 44 players, 12 bald patches and precisely one woman. The matches between Battersea 1 and East Ham, and Streatham 1 and Dulwich 1, are being played in the kind of silence familiar only to Trappist monks and assertive librarians. Strain your ears and you might hear the ticking of some players' timekeeping clocks. Some have come in suit and tie. Others, though, have slipped into something more comfortable, such as a cardigan. This looks deeply disappointing.
Recent events would lead a man to expect much more from an evening of chess. Emilio Cordova, 15, an international master from Peru, was crowned South American chess champion in January. The teenager celebrated by running away to Brazil and reappearing in the arms of Adriane Oliveira, a 29-year-old single mother from Sao Paulo.
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