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NERDY IN LA: Chessmaster Gets No Ass

This is the first installment of a new monthly series I’ll be writing for the LA Weekly called “Nerdy in LA” about ways to engage your nerdiness in the 323, the 310, the 213, SOMETIMES the 818 and very occasionally the 626. If you’re a Nerdist in LA or are merely fascinated by our poor public transportation and vapid egocentricism, then this periodical offering is for YOU. Thanks get heaped onto my friend Erin Broadley, the hot pack of firecrackers with a rapier wit who asked me to do this.


Founder Mick Bighamian (right) will be nice to you

Nerdy in LA: The Los Angeles Chess Club and Reflections on a Jr. High Championship (the Chessmaster Gets no Ass, it Turns Out)


The year was 1984. I had won the Memphis City Jr. High Chess Championship, narrowly defeating my arch nemesis Gus Lipman. Gus was a “Mr. Boy” type of kid who wore tortoise shell glasses, a London Fog trench coat and carried a briefcase for some reason (We were ELEVEN. What was in that briefcase? Filed boogers?). His heart was made of spiders and he had acid where his blood should be. He was a chess bully. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? ALL-CAPS MEANS YOU ARE EXTRA-WRONG. When a jock comes at you, you know what’s happening — some type of physical assault that heals up with medicine and time. A chess bully, however, tries to creep into your psyche like a cockroach in the walls.

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  1. LisaG says:

    AHAHAH!! Hilarious, as usual, and a fabulous concept! The NYC area codes need a Nerdist reporter, as well.

    I plan to incorporate “Hardwick defeat” into my vocabulary now. It’s the term for when I lose, but not by too much, and can hold my head high for giving a decent performance. It’s sort of the opposite of a Phyrric victory….. and sort of the story of my life.

  2. Megan says:

    I feel like I should defend the 818.

  3. We didn’t have a Chess club at our school. I wanted one badly and that alone made sure I wasn’t getting any action throughout my middle school and high school years. I used to really love the game. Every year I would hope and be let down as another season went by without a way to show off my serious pawn skills. I thought for sure, once all the women saw my skills at the chess board they wouldn’t be able to keep their hands off me, but my skills would have to stay secret.

    Thanks for the article and the proof that even if I would have had a chess forum to show off my skills, the chicks would have still stayed away. I feel so much better. I guess it could have been my dice bag and notebook filled D&D characters, but I doubt it was that, women usually think that kind of stuff is cool.

    Great article as always. It’s been since college since I have played a serious game of chess. After reading your article I went downstairs into my Nerd Cave and found my seriously uncool “Glass” chess set and asked my wife if she knew how to play chess, never thought to ask her, she is obviously too cool for that game. I was right of course, she is too cool for chess and had really no idea how to play. Maybe she’ll play for sexual favors? Maybe I can turn this into a pussy gettin’ skill after all? Wish me luck.


  4. Marcello says:

    lol – awesome advice there

  5. tecben says:

    Sweet article! In chess if i ever came near defeat, I would smash the board. (that’s how i keep my undefeated score) YAY! They even put your blog on their Blogroll.

  6. Colleenky says:

    Oh. Wait. That didn’t quite come out right. Chess champ = sexy. Jr. high = ew.

  7. Colleenky says:

    Jr. high chess champ? Now that’s sexy! 🙂

  8. Ian says:

    Congratulations! Geez, you really are building a nerdist empire. Just give the signal and I’ll be ready to overthrow whatever needs overthrowing.

  9. get article! i love chess and in my youth i would play mind games on people like the guy that was the chess bully. lol i dont play too often now, but i am still pretty good.

  10. Jaime says:

    I have to add here that there’s nothing sexier than a nerd who knows his shit.

    That = YOU

  11. Jaime says:

    I love this so much. Seriously? There isn’t enough nerd outside of myself in my life, and you provide a pretty acceptable amount to fill in the gaps.

    This article is so awesome and so are you!

  12. Cassie says:

    This is SUCH a great series concept! I think every city should have a “Nerdy in ___” correspondent. I look forward to reading more. (Even though I’ll be jealous of all the superfun things going on out there.)

  13. un-bride says:

    The juggling was supposed to be chick-repellent? Now you tell me.

  14. RadNerd says:

    Who’s that nerdist in my tepee?, it’s me, it’s me.

  15. Gunman says:

    the 213 is OG LA

  16. Chris Hardwick says:

    P.E. Thomas: Amended!
    Alex: Thanks!

  17. Alex says:

    nice article chris!

  18. P.E. Thomas says:

    oh fine, no love for the 213