83°Mostly Cloudy

“Without your help, Capital Checkers will have to close its doors”

by Prince Of Petworth February 18, 2016 at 3:02 pm 20 Comments

capital checkers

Thanks to a few folks for emailing – U Street Buzz tweeted earlier:

“Capital Checkers, a 30-yr-old Shaw institution, has no heat, may have to close. Pls donate”

The Fundraiser says:

“Capital Checkers has been a DC cultural institution for over 30 years, located just off U St on the corner of S & 9th NW. Home to several national champions and grand master players, Capital Checkers is one of the only checkers associations in America that provides a dedicated space for its members. Over the years, DC has gentrified, rent has gone up, and members have had to pay more and more. This year, the furnace broke, and their is no heat in the building. Members continue to play in the cold building, but they do not have enough money to make the repairs and pay rent. Without your help, Capital Checkers will have to close its doors.

For decades, Capital Checkers has provided opportunities for youth, adults and seniors to come together around a simple pleasure, playing checkers. They have taught in schools, engaged the local community, and provided important outlets for senior citizens, but they need your help. Donate today to ensure this DC institution lives on for future generations”


  • mark

    One building. 30 years. Paying rent. smh

    • Anon

      Checkers no longer has the same sex appeal like it once did. Stringing together several wins was an instant panty dropper during its hey-day.

    • jd

      the odds of a checkers club getting a loan to buy commercial real estate are pretty slim to none. 20% downpayment? no cash flow and no guarantors. That’s probably why they rented so long.

      • northshaw

        And how would title be held? Too much opportunity for some member(s) to take over the club to control the property and do with it as they please. Also would diminish incentive to accept new members if they might have same share of rights to property but not invested in downpayment or debt service.

        • petworther

          Lots of clubs and social organizations own buildings.

          • Anon

            Oh come on, we’re talking about a checkers club that’s stuck around the heart of Shaw through the past 30 years. Something tells me the Ford Foundation doesn’t have these guys on their recurring donation list.

  • Shaw_Resident

    The Shay should give Capital Checkers a vacant unit to use as they are the new “epicenter of Shaw” and as they certainly have plenty of vacant space.

  • Anon Spock

    If they’re renting, why isn’t the landlord responsible for repairs?

    • This is Awkward

      That’s a great question, I’m going to email the fundraising contact and ask since I’m interested in supporting this anyway.

    • EH

      A lot of commercial leases in DC are “Triple Net,” meaning the tenant pays everything – property taxes, insurance and all repairs.

    • S

      Because it’s a retail space and almost all retail spaces have their own HVAC units and are responsible for mainting it themselves not the landlords problem

  • andy2

    How about one of the Churches in the area rent their hall or other space to DC Checkers Mon-Sat so they can continue their mission.

  • This is Awkward

    UPDATE: Sounds like they have this “Triple Net” least, which sounds brutal btw. Here’s what I received back from the fundraiser’s manager, Jonah:

    “I am a member of the Capital Checkers club, although the President, Tal Roberts maintains the relationship with the landlord. I’ll tell you what I know. I believe that Capital Checkers has a commercial lease for the space on S St. That means that the tenant is responsible for all repairs. I know in the past they have replaced broken pipes and repaired roof leaks using their own money.

    I will try to get a copy of the lease today so I can confirm this. Thank you again for your interest and concern. I will stay in touch with any updates!”

    • Anonymous

      Triple net means your rent payment is lower, though, so probably not all that brutal in the scheme of things.

  • Nancy

    I’ll make a donation. I suck at chess, but it was something that reminds me of my dad (who died 4 years ago at 92!). On those rare occasions when I beat him I felt like I had triumphed over the whole world. I wouldn’t dare try and keep up with the guys in this group, but in my dad’s name I’m glad to help. I haven’t played chess since he died and probably never will again, just too painful.

  • Reality

    Loved this video. I donated, thanks for sharing!

  • LionofLedroit

    In an ideal scenario, would be great to see this building redeveloped into a denser mixed-use development, befitting its location near a metro stop and a prime commercial corridor, with the caveat that the purchaser agree to provide sufficient dedicated commercial/retail space for the checkers club on mutually-agreed upon lease terms (i.e. a significant discount). The city could, in exchange, allow the developer to develop something a bit denser than would ordinarily be allowed for this particular zoned lot and/or allow this arrangement to count towards any affordable housing requirements.

    Rather than this becoming an us (yuppies) vs. them (generally, older folks with lesser means) scenario, there is a way for everyone to win, and for a community to maintain diversity of character and socioeconomic class, with a bit of creativity and some political will..

  • ad

    I’ve walked by this place for years and assumed it was a standard social club. I didn’t realize they actually played checkers there.

  • Pop-fan

    I’m sure there is a church that would allow the members to use their space. Many churches offer the space for free or low cost.

  • Tokyothirteen

    does anyone have a link to donate?


Subscribe to our mailing list