Chess players soaking in the warm outdoor pool of Szechenyi Bath Budapest – probably this is the most shot peculiarity of Szechenyi Bath. A tourist remarked “I think I need to bring pool chess to the US.” You may have heard about some of the Hungarian chess players: Geza Maroczy, Lajosh Portisch, Gyula Sax, Judit Polgar, Peter Leko. Well, they were not trained at Szechenyi Baths, but it is true that chess is a very popular game in Hungary (during socialism there were many chess clubs in schools, so kids started their chess career early).
Well indeed, you will always see some serious chess players at the thermal pool in Szechenyi Baths who are healing their bodies and training their minds. Mostly they are elderly men, but luckily there seems to be a newer generation aging into pool chess to pass on the tradition. In fact, it would be better to rejuvenate the whole Hungarian pool chess team, but this sport maz need a less career centered state of mind (and more time allotted for bath time).
Once Csaba Balogh, international chess grandmaster went to play with the best of the pool chess team. After a couple of nice chess games leaving only kings and pawns on the board, his conclusion was that the most skilled player of the team could easily be a player in the 1st class team of Hungary (Csaba estimated about about 2200 points for the very best player at Szechenyi Baths).
So if you decide to play some chess in Budapest, and you feel up for a good challenge, do not miss Szechenyi Baths. It may not be that easy to win. (Of course there are less skilled players too).
You can see other chess players in some similarly open air and somewhat unexpected places in Budapest. For instance, at Nyugati Railway station or Keleti Railway Station. Oftentimes the chess boards are just put on the top of a bigger litter box and the party goes on.