SUNY Purchase: Chess Club

An article I wrote for The Purchase Independent.

During the Chess Club’s most recent meeting, more students showed than at any other meeting since it started. Twelve students took turns sitting across from each other, filling the two large tables, eyes scanning the chessboard for the next move.

“There are usually eight people who come every week, but there are about 15 members in the club,” said Chess Club president, Julian Norton, junior graphic design major.

Chess’s popularity is rising across the country. According to the U.S. Chess Federation, there are nearly 2,000 USCF-affiliated chess clubs and more than 100,000 chess players that participate in the USCF events every year.

Norton presented the Chess Club idea to Ricky Gunzel, coordinator of Clubs, Organizations and Services, last semester. Chess Club passed the vote and it was given an initial budget of $50.

Norton requested an additional $140.62 to cover three chessboards and four clocks, and decided that he’d bring one of his boards to go with the fourth clock. The money was added to the club’s budget.

He started the club because he wanted to find other chess players to play, and is willing to teach beginners.
When it comes to learning the game, Norton said that at first, chess can be “boring because it’s nothing but rules and how things move.” But once you know what you’re doing, that all changes.

“It’s the excitement of playing an exact mirror of equal material and mentally fighting it out,” Norton said. “There is no luck, although you can get lucky or unlucky depending on who makes a heart-wrenching mistake. Just not messing up alone is a talent in itself.”

Norton advertised the club by making posters and putting them up around campus, as well as spreading the word on Facebook about the club meetings every Monday night from 8:00p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in Campus Center North’s commuter lounge.

Nathaniel Lynn, junior creative writing major, said that it was “exciting” to have so many people at Chess Club. He joined Chess Club because he enjoys the intensity of the game.

“Chess is all about the single moment, frozen for as long as the timer allows,” he said. “Every movement, no matter how small, presents opportunity for you and your opponent.”

Mateo Morel, junior drama studies major, sat at the corner of the table, waiting to get in on a game. “Chess is intellectually stimulating,” he said, eyes on the game in front of him. “I even have a chess game on my phone.”

Morel was “more than happy” with the number of students who showed up at the meeting and likes to play different people because of their different strategies.

“Strategy comes down to understanding the moves of your opponent, seeing the holes in their play, and exposing their weaknesses at the right moment,” Morel said.

“Playing with new people helps me figure out different ways to play,” said Austin Crimmins, senior literature major as he looked up from the green and white checkered board, chess piece in hand. “I can learn from it.”

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