Best Of 2006

Best Chess: Barnes & Noble

In front of the bookstore is a giant chessboard painted on the sidewalk, with plastic pieces that stand three feet tall. Funny how you take it a little more personally when one of your pawns gets killed, since it's the size of a small child. And running all the way across the board with a rook or a bishop to blindside a knight with a crushing tackle -- that really brings out the medieval spirit of the game. Who knew chess could feel so . . . visceral?