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Midnight Chess: Where beer and bishops meet

Test your chess skills at Brother's Night Shop in Prenzlauer Berg

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Perfect your zugzwang at this Berlin nighttime spot. Photo: Dana Hall

Sick of online chess? Whether you’re a newbie who discovered the game watching The Queen’s Gambit or a seasoned player mapping out strategies 10 moves in advance, a nightly (knightly?) event at the Brother’s Night shop is here to offer you salvation. Grab a snack, soda or €1.60 Jever from inside and enjoy an evening of chess looking at your opponent, not your screen.

Stuck between an ice cream shop and a semi-permanent construction project near the bottom of Schönhauser Allee, nothing about this Späti will strike you as unique during the day. If anything, hanging out at its high-top table between a narrow strip of sidewalk and a well-used bike lane is slightly off-putting. But it’s night-time visitors aren’t here for the ambience. Most of them are here to take part in Stranger Chess, a grassroots chess event open to anyone – from the beginner to the expert. Here, seasoned players testing out their strategies sit side by side with newbies who, apart from having a bit of fun, can cast their eyes across the tables to try and pick up some tips and tricks from the chess masters.

The free event is organised by Wolf Bōese, an avid player who left his house one night armed with a chess board and a mission to meet people. After weeks of wandering around Mitte from the Museumsinsel to Monbijoupark to Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Bōese managed to set up a permanent slot at the Brother’s Night Shop six months ago. Pretty soon, the number of eager players grew until one board was no longer enough, so Bōese decided to buy a ‘couple’ more (on some nights, there are up to 10 boards in action!). Eager to join? You’ll find Bōese and his deeply concentrated crew every night, no matter the weather. And on your way out, be sure to ask for the empty Pringles tin, where thankful regulars like to leave a tip.