The New Yorker Profiles Asa Hoffmann

In this week’s New Yorker, the talk of the town section features an event hosted at the Marshall Chess Club. Reeves Wiedman, who I had the pleasure of chatting with for a moment and who I suspect may have lurked on this blog when doing research for the piece, definitely captured the feeling of the Marshall and the oddness of this event in particular. I have always thought that the Marshall was ripe for a talk of the town piece. The subject of the article was Phiona Mutesi’s book signing/publicity tour, the controversy of which I will not get into here.

Not surprisingly, the staff writer encountered Asa Hoffmann in the crowd, who managed to take on an out-sized role in the article, perhaps even over-shadowing Mutesi. When asked about the event for the 1600 player from Uganda, Asa had this to say: “I mean, it’s an inspirational thing, but she’s not a real player…There’s a couple of young girls here that could beat her for sure.” Asa went on to shamelessly self-promote in his usual style: “I’m a master of seven different games: Chess, Scrabble, Bridge, Poker, Backgammon…I’m waiting for chess boxing, senior-middle-weight division. Siss! Pow! Bam! he karate chopped the air- I’m a trained killer from Vietnam. Well they didn’t send me, but they trained me to go there, which is why I’m still here and in such top shape.”

I have to admit, seeing a place so near and dear to my heart as the Marshall being described in my favorite publication makes me a bit emotional. “Back at the Marshall the members knew the financial limitations of chess- paint was peeling in the corners of the room, and at one point a moth flew past.” But my favorite part of the article is when GM Yudasin is described as “Zach Galifinakis in a yarmulke.” I have to admit that there is definitely a family resemblance between those two.