It wasn't all bad

Tom Murphy sleeps on a bench, has no money, and struggles with alcoholism. But the 49-year-old homeless man is the unofficial chess king of Washington, D.C. Murphy spends his days playing chess at D.C.’s Dupont Circle, where he specializes in a lightning version of the game known as “blitz,” in which each player has just five minutes for all his moves. He has won several tournaments and finished 15th in the 2005 world blitz championship. “The mathematical equation has always been fascinating to me,” says Murphy, a former math and science major. “Then when you add the camaraderie, the ambience, the open air, it’s almost irresistible.” Murphy’s tournament ranking is “expert,” and in coming months, he hopes to qualify in the highest category, “master.”