Chess Club strikes back with new game plan

Group meets Wednesday’s after school, during academy time


photo or infographic by Jesus Santana

MAKING MOVES. Playing at an afternoon Chess Club meeting, sophomore Kenneth Chatman looks for his move. Chess Club meets after school on Wednesdays and some days during academy.

Tension in the air. The board is half empty. Pieces scattered on the squares. The knight moves forward, the king is cornered and with one click, it is checkmate.

After the 2020 pandemic, the Chess Club was disbanded and postponed until further notice. Months passed until school was safely held on campus, and when the time was right, the Chess Club began to rebuild. On February 3rd, the Chess Club held its first official meeting of the year and brought a majority of its members together to plan for their future.

Chess is a two player strategy game that takes place on a board with 64 squares and 32 pieces. English teacher Evan O’Rear, who ran the chess club last year, officially restarted the chess club activities with the help of his students.

“We had a chess club last year, but we started it right before spring break,” O’Rear said. “We had met like two or three times, and we were gonna to push and grow after spring break, but then we never came back. Then when we got back everything was real iffy about rona and obviously with chess you touch pieces, so we waited as long as we could before we felt it was safe to be able to have people together touching pieces.” 

They will meet every Wednesday after school and sanitize their chess pieces daily or any time they touch the chess set. After school meetings are optional for any students who want to attend and cannot stay after school.

“We meet once a week, and the weeks that are in between we meet during academy,” O’Rear said. “We won’t be spending that much time outside of school. I want to meet after school as an opportunity to learn, but I also want kids who can’t come after school to be able to enjoy the club as well so they have an opportunity to be star players. We will spray them with the stuff and let it sit overnight. That kills off everything that they touched, just like you would in any other classroom.”

Chess is a competitive strategy game that involves two players strategically moving pieces with the goal of capturing each other’s kings. 

“I kinda find that it’s interesting because you know you got your blocks, you got your 64 squares, in those 64 squares there are a quintillion number of moves you can make,” junior Zane Martin said. “It can look like a free range, kinda like how a rubix cube is.”

Although technology chess has shifted to online play, the recent pandemic has decreased the usage of physical chess sets and increased the usage of online chess platforms.

“When you play somebody in chess there’s an amazing connection to that person,” O’Rear said. “Being able to see your opponent and see the moves that they make and see their mind working. There’s more to it than just playing on the screen.”

Many board games were used for strategic planning and chess was one of the primarily used games to physically illustrate the battlefield tactics. Because of this, strategy is an important part of the game. 

“The thing I find interesting is just so many strategies that you can do, and so simple of a game at the same time,” sophomore Dillan Wilson said. 

Club activities will include interaction with the chess sets, advising by the teacher and skill development that will assist someone in real life situations.

“Beyond the interaction, they learn how to plan ahead,” O’Rear said. “They learn how to make a plan. They learn to piece together what they want to happen, to react, and if that plan fails, they come up with a new plan. It’s obviously the greatest game of all time, but it instills in them that character of being able to react to a plan that doesn’t go well.”

Chess Club is not only about learning and developing new skills but also about preparing for competitive gameplay in the future.

“Our end goal is to eventually formulate and have a team, and go and play other schools,” O’Rear said. “That is kinda the big goal, right now just play and learn, and then eventually have tournaments and competitions where we kinda have who we feel are our best guys go out there and get their feet in the water and just start competing.”

Learning, competing and developing new skills are all a part of the Chess Club’s ideals, and with the help of O’Rear, any student can learn to play the game.

“Being resilient in chess can help with the real world,” O’Rear said. “If you’re always looking ahead in life, one step ahead, two steps ahead, three steps ahead, and even if something comes and ruins that plan. In life you still have to figure out how to come up with a new one. And that totally transcends from chess to real life.”