Most people have a set list to tick off when visiting a new country. The national museum, the famous bridge, the legendary music venue. For me, no holiday is complete until I’ve checked out the local chess scene.
The habit started on a solo trip to Paris a few years ago. As a keen chess player — no master, but a competent amateur — I made sure to visit Jardin du Luxembourg, where chess enthusiasts famously congregate for games.
After enjoying some matches before dusk fell and the regulars packed up, I offhandedly asked my opponent where else was good to play. In the manner of a John le Carré character, he gave me a time, a name and an address. Intrigued, I followed his instructions and found myself in an empty bar, about to close, in the 11th arrondissement.