Laurent reigns supreme in his little kingdom on Place Flagey in Brussels. The undisputed king of the chessboard, the homeless one invites passersby to look at him.
He is nicknamed “the king of chess”. Laurent never misses the call. Every day, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., he installs his pawns on the chessboards he collects. For 12 years now, he has been offering passers-by the opportunity to meet him for free on his favorite site.
And fans are there. “I was surprised to see so many people interested in chess,” he confides to the RTBF camera. I thought we were a minority. †
Laurent sat on the floor in front of Brussels Central Station and even got the chance to compete against Belgium’s number 2 in this discipline. A great way to lower social barriers… and isolation with it. A mix he welcomes: “It’s important to me to break through this social divide. I saw that the game of chess brought people from all backgrounds, from all social classes. †
After the game, his opponents sometimes give him some change to help him in his daily life. An amount that he divides in three, he says: “I take a third for myself, a third to replace the chess sets or buy new ones and a third to hand out drinks, food or blankets, tents, sweaters to people who need them. There are more and more here…”
His dream? Create the first international street chess tournament. Because he indicates: “It’s not the same concentration. I can challenge any world champion to come out and play on the street and stay as focused as I am! †