Seven Men Busted for Playing Chess in Manhattan Playground

Ticketed for "failure to comply with signs"

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    392475 08: Chess pieces sit next to the board during a round of chess July 26, 2001 at Washington Square Park in New York City. Chess legend Bobby Fischer played in this park which was later made famous in the film "Searching for Bobby Fischer.", (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    Police demonstrated their staunch commitment to enforcing the law when they arrested seven men in an Inwood Hill playground – for playing chess.

    A swarm of bulletproof vest-clad police descended on the group of men last month and issued them tickets for playing chess in an area reserved for adults who have children with them.

    Yes, it's a crime to be in there unaccompanied by minors, even if there are no kids in the playground at the time, which was the case with the men who got busted.

    After reviewing the tickets, Jose Navarro, Captain of the 34th precinct, told DNAInfo he backed his officers.

    "Under my direction, uniformed officers routinely enter the parks to enforce closing times and other regulations; all designed to protect the community," Navarro wrote in an e-mail to the website. "The NYPD allows for officers to issue summonses in lieu of effecting an arrest for appropriate offenses."

    At least one area resident thinks these guys got rooked.

    "This incident is an embarrassment to the officers from the 34th Precinct who felt that it was necessary to use their badge and authority to issue such a random summons," Joanne Johnson, a mother who lives in the area, wrote in a letter to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council after the bust, according to The New York Post. "Is chess really something that should be considered a threat to the neighborhood?"

    The official charge levied against the men, each of whom received a desk-appearance summons, was "failure to comply with signs." They were playing chess in an area demarcated with a fence and dotted with signs that read, "Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12."

    As one Inwood Hill resident put it to DNAInfo, "Couldn't they just move the tables?"

    The "hooligans" are due back in court December 28.