Chess in Phnom Penh has seen an incredible uptick in popularity the past few years. Many people took up this hobby during COVID times and all the difficulties we faced in 2020. For many people, Chess was the perfect hobby during the different lockdowns and curfews we've encountered. Also, the Netflix series The Queen's Gambit helped to push the popularity of chess, being one of the most-watched series during 2020. In Phnom Penh, you can find passionate chess players who gather at different venues around the city.
At the moment (depending on the COVID situation) you can play chess in Phnom Penh at the following places:
This might be a shameless plug, but some friends have referred to Crooked Brew as the Chess Cafe. We love playing chess at our coffee shop and you can usually find someone to play with several times a week. We also have a weekly chess event on Saturday afternoons starting from 1 pm. The reason we decided to start playing chess at Crooked Brew is because it's one of the few places in Phnom Penh to play chess that is suitable for the younger audience. There have been complaints at the other places about smoking and drinking whereas Crooked Brew is a non-smoking coffee shop. You can have a coffee or a soft drink but for the players that want a craft beer that also exists. If you don't feel like drinking caffeinated drinks in the afternoon there is also decaf option available.
This drinking spot at Russian Market is also famous for hosting chess afternoons. If you are feeling a bit rough on Sunday after a wild Saturday then this is the perfect place to come for a few beers and to meet lovely chess players. The chess event at The Deck starts at 1 pm if current COVID restrictions allow. The games usually go on until the late afternoon and at times you can find almost a dozen players playing here.
Azure Bar and Grill
From what we know, Azure is the only place in Phnom Penh where you can play chess mid-week. Their chess events are held on Tuesday evening. They have an extensive food menu and they are also serving alcoholic drinks like beer and cocktails. If you don't want to drink alcohol in the middle of the week they also have coffee and other non-alcohol drinks. It's a large place with plenty of space to play chess.
Future of Chess in Phnom Penh
There is a growing community of chess players in Phnom Penh. It is rather small at the moment but we're happy to see people gather to play and share ideas about this beautiful game. Before COVID there were also some proper chess tournaments held and we expect to see them back when the strict measures are lifted. For more news and updates about chess in Phnom Penh we recommend joining the Facebook group Cambodian Chess Guild.