Your move: New chess club attracts young and old
Perhaps more than any other, the game of chess is a game of concentration. The number of possible moves may, to a novice, be quite intimidating. To a more experienced player, it is the ability to …
Your move: New chess club attracts young and old
Perhaps more than any other, the game of chess is a game of concentration. The number of possible moves may, to a novice, be quite intimidating. To a more experienced player, it is the ability to limit the number of moves available to one’s opponent, which often is the telling measure.
For a small, but growing number of local residents, the newly-founded Tuesday Knights chess club provides a perfect venue at which to hone their game.
As club founder and chess coach, Dr. Larry Yates, explained, “We needed a club in Mineola…a place where youngsters and oldsters could come together and compete across a chessboard.” The origins of the club stemmed in part from time spent at home during the pandemic.
“With a 35-year gap in playing, I picked the game up again this past winter,” Yates explained. After a few sessions spent at the Lindale chess club – which meets weekly at the Whataburger in Lindale – Yates determined to bring a club to Wood County.
Getting a club started was pretty straightforward, he explained, but like many initiatives, it is critical to secure a proper venue in which to meet. Exercising connections through his ministry, Yates approached Pastor Demetrius Boyd, who without hesitation offered use of St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist fellowship hall.
The Tuesday Knights had a home, at one of the most well-known venues in the area. Based on the initial month of operation, the club is off and running.
The club’s last meeting in June gathered 23 players to the fellowship hall. Just as intended, the group ranged from primary school-aged children to those sporting grey hair.
“Having a safe, structured environment for folks to focus on the challenge of chess cuts across all social boundaries,” Yates offered, “and that is quite rare in society today.”
What brought everyone together that night was, of course, chess. The standard Tuesday Knights meeting starts with a 20-minute video lesson about the game. The lesson two weeks past was on “Protecting the Center.” After the video, those in attendance split off to test their latest tactics on the club-provided chess sets.
The round tables in the fellowship hall easily accommodated two separate games with plenty of room between them. With a popcorn machine chugging away in the back, and water available, the group all settled in for some competition.
Two competitive groups illustrate the appeal of the game and the breaking of boundaries. Sarah and Randy Strobel, of Quitman, home-school their six children. The chess club provided a perfect event for the whole family to enjoy and interact with other competitors. Three neighbors were also along for the trip. All of the youngsters were actively engaged in their games throughout the evening.
Sarah Strobel reported that she had read about the club on a flyer in town. She shared some of her philosophy about her children. “As the Book says,” she offered, “every student becomes like their master, and we are to be missionaries to our children.” She went on to explain the type of discussions which the whole gang would have about the evening playing chess on the ride back home.
At another table, Mineola resident Stan Peacock and newcomer to the area Aaron Cavitt were in a contest of wits. Each appeared completely absorbed in the 20-minute match, which ended with a checkmate and a handshake.
Cavitt explained the game of chess as “the equivalent of doing a mental push-up.”
What the game of chess represents is one of the more intriguing elements of the contest. As one side must be designated to make the first move of a match, there is a natural progression of offense and defense at the start.
Who is attacking and who is defending is apt to shift, often suddenly, within a match. While international masters at the game may play a whole match on the offensive, it is a rarity. Most contests offer an ebb and flow to the action, as unexpected moves and human errors surface.
Winnsboro resident Jacob Spears offered an insightful description of the game, “The ability to see the game from different perspectives as it unfolds is much akin to how, as we mature and improve as a person, we begin to see life differently.” Spears admitted that chess had become for him much more than a hobby.
The chess club benefits those going into elementary school just as much as it does those whose grandchildren are going into elementary. For anyone endeavoring to build their mental capacity and hone their patience, will power and concentration, an evening of friendly competition with the Tuesday Knights may be just the right fit.