When I was a child, my uncle taught me the ancient game of chess. Over the years, I have played sporadically and have only improved slowly. I’ve always enjoyed chess, though, and wanted to do more with it. With my third child showing an interest and aptitude for the game, I decided to start a chess club for his friends and schoolmates. At first we met in my living room, but that quickly became difficult due to the noise level that just naturally accompanies 7 to 10 year olds. Once we moved to the local community center, the crew became more manageable.
Our club members have grown and matured, and are mostly entering fourth and fifth grade. We continually add new members and the more experienced players help the “newbies.” Come the fall, I’ll prepare an invitation flyer for the students at the new school my son is entering, and expect to get some additional players.
Since I am not an experienced teacher, sometimes keeping order during the club is like herding cats. One method I’ve used for keeping the focus on chess, and not on running amok, is to run chess tournaments for the group. Our last tournament ended in a four-way tie for first, so we had to have a couple of runoffs to select the victor and award the trophy.
After a day of report writing and field work for my environmental consulting practice, an evening of playing and teaching chess is a welcome diversion. I’ve also improved my own chess game considerably with many face-to-face and online contests under my belt in the last few years.
Anyone with interest in learning more about our Cheltenham Chess Club, please contact me. Comments on this blog post and all other posts are always welcome.