Well, this is a pathetic development in the War on Fun: The SFPD has confiscated all the game tables, chairs, and chess boards that have been used for at least three decades for sidewalk chess games on Market Street near Fifth. The claim is that "illegal activity" has spiked in the last six months, but this kind of sounds like bullshit given that we used to live in this neighborhood, and the entire five-block radius around those chess games has basically never not been a hotbed of illegal activity.
Says police Capt. Michael Redmond to the Chron, "It's turned into a big public nuisance. I think maybe it's a disguise for some other things that are going on."
Oh, for god's sake. It's just a bunch of elderly, mostly homeless dudes playing chess!! Whatever else is going on around them, or whatever pills they may be taking on their non-chess-playing time, has little or nothing to do with the fact that they're all just out their passing the time in a perfectly peaceful way, sacrificing pawns and taking bishops and rooks and shit!!
Sidebar: We gather that women passing by the daily games were frequently subjected to harassment, but that is another matter.
Our guess is that the row of chess-playing dudes runs counter to the image that the upcoming new tenants across the street, in what will become Market Street Place, the vertical mall formerly called CityPlace. And even though that is only barely under construction and not near opening, they want to get a head start on spiffing things up for the neighboring businesses that will reap the benefits of the retail gentrification to come.
They have their work cut out for them on Sixth Street. Baby steps.