The Chess Club is the perfect place to hang out with friends and play the beloved game


Saniya Mishra

A picture of a chess board, which the Chess Club has three of to allow for multiple concurrent games

Freshman James Walker’s favorite chess piece is the knight. Its unique L-shaped movement allows it to jump over other pieces and pin attacks on multiple other pieces at the same time. He even finds this piece to be more versatile than the queen, which can move horizontally, vertically, and diagonally.

“The knight is the only piece that can attack another piece when it’s not being attacked by the same piece,” James said. “If the queen is attacking a piece, that piece can attack it back, but the knight moves in a different way than every other piece.”

His admiration of the unique piece demonstrates his avid interest in the game, an interest that he has kept since it first sparked.

James has been playing the game for two years. He first started learning through YouTube videos and then continued his endeavor on, playing against others online. But, James decided he wanted to take his game playing to the next level.

“I was getting really into chess,” James said. “I wanted to play at school so I didn’t have to play online. I also wanted to play with some real people in a real setting.”

So, James decided that he wanted to start the Chess Club, and now, they meet every Friday in Room 211, math teacher Lisa Gaiser’s room.

Unfortunately, getting the club started wasn’t so easy. After some difficulty making their way through the process, they were finally able to begin the paperwork and spread the word about their club. Since then, they’ve had a couple of meetings, each with new members.

“We’ve had a variety of different people come in every week,” Gaiser said. “Consistently, [It’s been freshman] Brendan [Phipps] and James, but we’ll have people coming in to [play] a game for fun on a Friday afternoon [to] relax and socialize.”

With several different players, the Chess Club offers a wide range of levels and competitiveness for those looking to join, from experts to novices. Brendan actually began learning chess so that he could play at the club with his friend, James. He finds that it’s the game that he enjoys, not the competition or trying to win.

“[The Chess Club] is pretty fun,” Brendan said. “I get to hang out with James and have a fun time talking while playing. Even if I’m losing all the time, it’s still really fun to play with him.”

When he plays with James, their enthusiasm is so vivid. All the while, he talks with James, who shows him ways to improve his strategies.

The club is a great place to learn and practice chess, but the most important thing about the club is the fun and joy it presents. For Brendan, the game also offers an aspect of escapism.

If you’re interested in playing chess, you’ve got two very eager players here that want some different competition. So, if you think you can bring it, then you should stop in on Friday.

— Lisa Gaiser

“I like playing games in general,” Brendan said. “They’re a nice distraction from the rest of the world. They’re generally fun to play with friends, or whoever else is there, and have a good time.”

In addition to the game-playing opportunities the club offers, Brendan enjoys the chance to spend time with friends that he otherwise wouldn’t see in school.

This makes Chess Club a great way to relax and enjoy a Friday afternoon, especially with the calm, friendly atmosphere of Gaiser’s room, which is also shared by the Crochet Club. With the two clubs, laughter and small conversations are forever present.

“[The week before exams], it was almost like we were kind of working together,” Gaiser said.“We had a couple [of] games going on. We had a couple [of] projects going on, and really, it was just a nice environment to be together and sit and relax on a Friday afternoon doing something that picks you up.”

From the inviting atmosphere to the fun offerings, the Chess Club is the perfect place to hang out with friends and learn and play the strategic game.

Everyone is welcome to join, and the club members are looking for more students to be a part of their fun. As James put it, “people should join to have a good time.”

“If you’re interested in playing chess,” Gaiser said, “you’ve got two very eager players here that want some different competition. So, if you think you can bring it, then you should stop in on Friday.”