Posted by Ellen

There are chess players on the streets of Havana, and Cubans have won the World Chess Championship multiple times, notably in 1921 when José Raúl Capablanca beat the longtime German champion Emanuel Lasker.

Ché Guevara was a chess player who started an annual international chess tournament in Havana in 1962, when he was serving as post-revolutionary head of the Cuban National Bank. Here, Ché watches the tournament play of a Yugoslavian revolutionary he had befriended:

In 1965, the U.S. government would not allow Bobby Fischer to travel to Cuba to participate in the tournament, so he played via telex from New York.

Today, Cuban children learn to play chess at school, and last fall they participated in a national tournament commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Ché's death.

Posted by Ellen

Some would say the archetypal Cuban pastime is baseball, and they wouldn't be far wrong. In this space in the days to come, we'll take a look at baseball and other passions, but the everyday-everywhere-everybody hands-down #1 most popular game in Cuba is dominoes.

It might be the most popular outdoor entertainment of any kind, unless it's been nudged out of the lead by the new fun of texting and surfing in the Internet parks. People play dominoes on sidewalks and porches and streetcorners and balconies, in yards and plazas and parks and doorways, all afternoon and long into the night.


Posted by Ellen

You know what they say: yes, it looks impressive, but the fact is that Allen probably beats his niece two games out of three.

Posted by Ellen

When I imagine a perfect Fourth, there would be water splashing in the afternoon, then hot dogs, watermelon, blueberry shortcake–or maybe boiled crabs, potato salad, corn on the cob–and finally sparklers and fireworks. In the air, at some point, there could be  band music and lightning bugs and American flags.

And a little bocce would be very, very nice. I don't know the people in this picture, who claim that they went up and down the coast of California playing bocce all along the way; this scene is from their stop in Sonoma County. A whole road trip of bocce is excessive–there's something way too over-the-top-West-Coast about it–and the guy on the right does appear to be wearing his beer can on top of his hat.

But the guy on the left has perfect form: bocce ball in one hand, beer in the other. Happy Birthday, America!