Checkmates take over elevator

Courtney Maragh takes one of Ryne Gottlieb pieces, setting up a check mate. The pair play chess in the elevator most Sunday nights in Pearson elevator #3. As they finished their game, the elevator stopped in the basement for the first time. Lindsay Brown//News Editor

A bishop, a knight and a queen walk into a Pearson elevator.

No, it’s not the beginning of a bad bar joke. On Sundays, the Pearson Residential College elevator is used for more than just moving people.

Sophomores Courtney Maragh and Ryne Gottlieb play chess every week in the elevator. Last semester, Maragh and Gottlieb, who are roommates in Pearson, were playing in their room and thought it would be funny to play in the elevator as a joke.

“At first, people thought we were crazy,” Maragh said. “But now people have gotten accustomed to us and some stay and watch for a little while. Eventually we want people to see us and say, ‘Oh, it must be Sunday.’”

Sophomore Saramati Narasimhan, a friend of the chess-playing pair, isn’t surprised by their elevator antics and occasionally joins in the games.

“They love playing chess,” Narasimhan said. “They play everywhere- their room, the dining hall and in the elevator.”

Gottlieb and Maragh’s unusual ideas don’t stop at chess. Gottlieb has passed out slices of pizza in the elevator while they play and on Halloween they decorated the whole elevator, dressed up in costume and had a bowl of candy for elevator riders with a sweet tooth.

“Maragh dressed up as the Old Spice man with the sweater and body wash and everything,” Gottlieb said. “He even recited the entire commercial each time somebody new came on the elevator for them.”

Gottlieb and Maragh bring two small chairs, a small table and a small chess set that they set up in the back of the elevator next to the door in the rear. They have had to move when the door opens only a few times, but they said they haven’t had any issues getting out of the way of incoming riders.

The two students have been questioned a few times, but they have never gotten in trouble.

“People have asked us plenty of times, ‘Why are you playing chess in the elevator?’” Gottlieb said. “Where do you play chess?”

Maragh credits the idea completely to Gottlieb, but that doesn’t mean he gives him the match. Maragh has a slight edge over Gottlieb in play, but the matches are always close.

“Courtney has the more abstract strategies,” Gottlieb said. “Last time, he had just a knight, pawn and king and was able to keep them together, get a queen and come back to beat me.”

Trevor Scales may be contacted at

February 6, 2011


Trevor Scales

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Checkmates take over elevator”

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

UM chatter: • One lesson learned in recent years, as one UM official put it: Don’t get your hopes up ...

The unopened Christmas gift that University of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz recently spoke ...

Joseph Yearby declared early for the NFL draft. Gus Edwards transferred to Rutgers. Trayone Gray is ...

The University of Miami is in conversations about playing the University of Alabama to kick off the ...

He’s all grown up. Yet University of Miami defensive end Scott Patchan is only 20. Two reconstructiv ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

Former University of Miami Dean of Students William W. ‘Bill’ Sandler, Jr. passed away on August 6 a ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.