The chess clocks glowed silent, not a single card was being smashed on the poker table and there was simply nowhere to get a convenient gaming fix on St-Laurent boulevard. Clearly something was wrong in the state of Plateau Mt-royal. Cafe Pi, the mythic chess, backgammon and poker shrine, open for over 10 years of racial blendering, violence, madness, escape, gambling and debauchery, shut its doors last December. It reopened, under an interim regime, last week by few players who came together, took on the rent, changed the floors, painted the walls and re-hired the old staff.
For many years the old owners were not part of the chess, backgammon or poker circles. They were just running the legendary coffee spot where games aficionados would spend their evenings. The new owners are part of the community.
The new space accommodates artists and students who’d like to come in and work or study for long hours. Chess classes and simultaneous games with grand masters are happening regularly during the day and a pretty wild poker game starts everyday at 7pm. Blinds are $0.25/$0.50 and the game goes until midnight. Having a game without rake is a miracle in the poker world and the waiting list sometimes gets long.
“We didn’t realise how much we appreciated it until it was gone,” says John., one of distressed local regular. “And now we can breath again.”
The space also aims to engage the artistic community with discussion, exhibits, screenings, talks, promotes networking opportunities. A welcoming and unpretentious atmosphere welcomes artists to come as they are and stay awhile. The art on display ranges as far and wide as the talent of people who create it as there’s always something new to be seen, and new artists to discover.
4127 St-Laurent Blvd
Every day: 12p.m.–12a.m.