There are those who believe that chess is strictly an engagement of European manners, the feints and counterfeints concealing an epic struggle of daring, intellect and endurance.

That may be the way it's played inside the Hotel Macklowe.But just outside, in Times Square, it's a different game: blitz chess lasts no more than 10 minutes, the sidewalk is its stage and aggressiveness always carries the day.

"We don't have anything to do with the Russians," said Earle Biggs, who owns the chess tables along Broadway and 42nd Street. "We play our own game."

Call it stickball chess, for just as stickball resembles the sport of Mays and DiMaggio, so the Times Square players share the game of Kar-pov and Kasparov, moving 32 pieces across 64 squares.

But as different as a sealed-off street is from Yankee Stadium, the Times Square playing field differs from the hushed hotel womb where championship chess is being played.

Blitz players do not play on boards, but on squares painted on card tables because "it's one less thing to pack up at night," Biggs said.

And the elements - wind, rain, belching buses and street-corner peddlers of sex or salvation - combine in a kaleidoscopic test of concentration.

"A lot of guys get rattled by it all," said Asa Hoffmann, who has played in Times Square for several years. "So I guess it's sort of a home-field advantage."

But Hoffmann said he and the half-dozen other regulars are less concerned about finding advantages than finding opponents. Like the three-card monte dealers who work nearby, Hoffmann often has to cajole passers-by into playing.

"Come on, why not play a little?" Hoffmann asks kibitzers. "You obviously know the game."

He suggests a bet of $3 to $10.

If the opponent balks, he talks odds. "I'll give myself two minutes to make all my moves and give him five, or maybe I'll start without a rook or a bishop."

His success rate mirrors that of the nearby card sharks. "I've never lost a game out here," he said flatly.

Hoffmann said Biggs does not get a cut of side bets.

"We just pay him 50 cents a game to play like everybody else," he said. "Nobody gets rich playing out here."

Though the bets are illegal under New York's gambling laws, Biggs said the police never bother him.

Biggs said he does quite well - well enough so that with his earnings from "other investments," he opened his own indoor operation, the New Step Club on East 57th Street, four months ago.

The step up to indoor chess, with real boards, comes after years on the street, Biggs said. When he came to the city 11 years ago he saw another group of chess players in Times Square and decided it would be a good way to make a living.

He set up tables in Bryant Park on 42nd Street between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas and remained there for seven years until a reclamation program forced him to move to Times Square.

Biggs said his game has been the training ground for several new operations.

"The gentlemen up on 53rd Street used to work for me and so did the fellows down on Liberty Street," he said. He doesn't worry about the competition.

"As long as they respect my corner and I respect theirs, there's enough to go around." At all locations the game is blitz, in which players have five minutes each to make all their moves. Kasparov and Karpov, by comparison, each have 150 minutes to make their first 40 moves.

Blitz has a fast-forward quality as pawns quickly meet pawns; then bishops, rooks and queens circle, sidestep and attack each other in a moment, all punctuated by the rat-a-tat thwacking of the time clocks.

James Davis, who repairs refrigeration systems, said he enjoys watching the games during his lunch hour.

"I've tried to follow the championship in the papers," he said, "but, I don't know, this game is more my speed."

He looked back at the board, then added: "The guy playing green just made a really dumb move with his rook. He's going to get smoked."