'Chess-playing duo who made the wrong moves'

10/27/2002 – John Allen Muhammed, the prime suspect in the deadly US sniper attacks, spent his evenings quietly playing chess with the boy with whom he was later arrested. This is reported by a number of sources that are looking into the background of the Muhammed and his 17-year-old accomplice John Malvo. Was the henious attack a game of chess for the Beltway Snipers? More

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports that John Allen Muhammad, a tough Gulf War veteran schooled in marksmanship, the prime suspect in the deadly US sniper attacks, once spent his evenings quietly playing chess with the boy with whom he was later arrested. Sitting opposite each other at a small table in a trendy coffee bar, John Muhammad and 17-year-old John Malvo would spend hours pondering the board and trading chess pieces, ignoring the loud throng of youths around them.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: "The pair often whiled away the evening at Stuart's Coffee House, a cozy place midway between the YMCA and the Light House Mission where they lived. Muhammad would order a single cup of coffee and challenge Malvo to chess matches that Muhammad usually won."

"They played chess, a game that requires careful attention to strategy, for hours at a time. They were rarely out of each other's sight," says the Miami Herald.

The Bellingham Herald says that the people at Stuart's Coffee House remember sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad as a quiet chess player who never wanted to be separated from his heavy Army duffel bag.

The New York Times quotes a psychologist who specializes in extreme criminal behavior and works for a major metropolitan police department: "There is a relationship he is having with the police and the media. It is one in which he feels he is superior, that he is God. He is enjoying the chess game."

The Globe and Mail quotes William McDonald, a Georgetown University sociology professor and expert in criminal law, who commented on the police tactics in the case of the Beltway Sniper:"They're playing chess games with the guy," he said, "psychological games."

"Usually chess players like to play other chess players. They didn't," said Garry Fleming, owner of a Bellingham cafe where the two spent hours bent over one of the restaurant's game sets, according to the Barbados Daily Nation.


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