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Chess players feel rooked in downtown San Francisco, police remove tables, boards

This game of chess, and others like it in downtown San Francisco, have been broken up by police who say the tradition is attracting drug-dealers and gambling, not just chess players.
CBS San Francisco
(CBS) SAN FRANCISCO - A decades-long tradition of outdoor chess games in downtown San Francisco is being upended by police who have confiscated the boards and tables, claiming the games are attracting an increasingly undesirable element to the city's Tenderloin Distrct, CBS San Francisco reports.

The station reports the neighborhood has been undergoing a makeover, that police took away the chess paraphernalia earlier this month, and that many of the players, mostly homeless people, now have nowhere to play.

Police tell CBS San Francisco it's not the chess players, but other people and paraphernalia - related to drugs and gambling - that are the problem.

Authorities said complaints from local businesses have gone up in recent months, but homeless advocates said chess is one of the few positive things that the homeless and elderly have that gets them out in the community.

The station reports the chess games may return, but police said only if a local business wants to pay for a permit to allow them.

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