Months ago, 9-year-old Cuauhtemoc Vazquez Galvez taught himself how to play chess online and he realized he had met his gaming match.

“It’s a strategy game and I love strategy,” he said.

Instead of playing strangers on a computer, his mom suggested they seek out competition in real life at the Capital City Mall in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County.

“He made a sign, he was standing there and he just got a bunch of people playing with him,” said mom Tina Maria Vazquez Galvez. “Rather than him being at home and sitting on electronics, he’s actually using his mind and socializing.”

Find other chess enthusiasts – check. People have been lining up for weeks to challenge Cuauhtemoc. Sydney Ciccocioppo, 9, is one of them.

“I usually play against some family members but they wanted me to have a better challenge and more people to play against,” she said.

In addition to being a worthy opponent, Sydney is now also a friend.

“He’s better…definitely,” Sydney said.

“I think 20 or 10 steps ahead,” Cuauhtemoc said. “I have strategies if my plan goes wrong.”

This new kind of the food court has found a bond over a board. Reminding us all through pawns, knights and bishops that we are all pieces of a human puzzle that is always better together.

“My biggest joy is seeing his happiness and he really has a passion for chess,” mom Tina said.

Cuauhtemoc has enjoyed playing a the mall so much that it’s now his Saturday tradition. The fourth grader plans to set up his board in the food court every week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.