Here's a good one—"The Legend of Buster Smith," Adam Langer's 1993 story for the Chicago Reader on a checkers champion:

From the outside, the green-and-white house on Warren Boulevard near Ashland doesn't look much different from any of the other buildings in the neighborhood. The paint has started to peel and the windows are gray and sooty. The only thing a little unusual about it is the dusty checkerboard propped in one of the downstairs windows.

You go down the cement stairs at the front and open the creaky wooden door that leads into the basement. Orange flames rumble in an electric fireplace. A faded American flag hangs on the wall. In the center of the room checkerboards lie atop six tables. Two men sit across from each other at one of them, looking silently down at their board. The only sounds are the rain outside, the O'Jays on the radio, and the occasional clacking of checker pieces.

On the wall a bathroom rug hangs with its underside facing out. On the rug in Magic Marker someone has written "Buster's Place."

Buster Smith used to come here in the afternoons, before his shift at the post office. He'd sit down at one of the tables and wait for someone to challenge him to a game. He didn't like to play for money; he played because he loved the game. And when newcomers sat across the table from the quiet, unassuming Buster, they were dumb enough to think they could beat him. The old-timers knew better; they knew that Buster Smith was without a doubt the greatest checker player in Chicago.