The game of chess has been bringing New Yorkers together for years in parks, squares, cozy clubs and tournament halls. But how can this beloved pastime survive amid a pandemic? Meet the city’s most interesting pawn pushers, grandmasters, club owners and street players who keep the hope, and the game, alive.

Simon is a filmmaker from France who originally moved to New York to play college soccer. After a Bachelor of History and a Master’s of Sport Management at St. John’s University, Simon decided to follow his lifelong passion and went back to school at The New School for Documentary Studies. In his work, Simon focuses on collectives and subcultures with a passion for games, whatever they may be, and what these activities tell us about our society at large. After a short documentary on college soccer in the United States, Empire State of Chess is Simon’s second film.


2021 NBR Student Grant


Type of Project





The New School

Produced, Written, Edited, and Photographed by

Simon Tchoukriel


simontchoukriel [at] gmail [dot] com