Accept the bet: CPP chess club moves to virtual play

By Lauren MuttramApril 13, 2021

The Cal Poly Pomona Kings Chess Club has swapped its physical board and pieces for a computer-generated version of the strategy game as the club is forced to meet and play virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a mission to “promote the intellectual growth of scholars while having fun”, the Chess Club continues to offer meetings, tournaments and workshops to members and those interested in chess at all levels. or their rank. Despite the move to the online environment, the club continues to compete virtually with universities across the country, with its A team winning five of seven tournaments and its B team winning four of eight.

“We used chess.com a bit in the past when we were in person,” said club founder and mentor Grant Zeman (’20, electrical engineering). “However, chess.com has become one of the main mediums for playing against each other, so we are using it much more frequently.”

Chess.com is an ever-growing Internet chess server, forum, and networking site where individuals can play chess, improve their skills, and continue practicing the game in a remote environment.

The website hosts over 10 million games every day and has seen a colossal 190% increase in user accounts since the pandemic began.

The chess club is currently meeting virtually to compete via chess.com, an online chess server. (Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona Kings Chess Club)

“We really want students to feel like this is a place they can belong, where they can socialize, make lasting connections and friendships,” said club vice-president Nektary Telep, a sixth-grade microbiology student. year.

A member of the club for two years, Telep not only enjoys the friendly competition offered by chess but believes in the intellectual growth possible by playing with his peers.

As the online chess scene flashes, the club continues to improve its virtual means of communication through enhanced Discord channels, enabling fast and efficient communication between members and leaders.

To further encourage member participation in a remote setting, club leaders initiated a points system instead of the fees they traditionally charge members.

“It’s a way to provide awesome materials and content to members, like prizes and rewards, as well as drive club participation,” Zeman said. “The more you participate, the more you earn.”

Members can earn a maximum of 3,000 points. After collecting a certain number of points, members are ranked from double pawn to king.

Each rank comes with a specific prize including keychains, t-shirts, and even entries into a raffle for a free one-year premium subscription to chess.com. One of the prizes being offered is a selection of stickers that feature the pop culture phenomenon and popular Netflix series, “The Queen’s Gambit”.

The show not only exposed audiences to the thrill and potentially intense nature that comes with chess, but also inspired millions to play. After the show’s debut last fall, another 3.2 million people joined chess.com and chess boards were selling worldwide.

First-year mechanical engineering student Juan Meza explained the show’s success in promoting chess and attributed it to the growth of other online platforms.

“COVID has helped the online chess scene and the rise of chess on Twitch has helped that as well,” Meza said.

With the growing popularity of online chess, members appreciate how easy it is to connect and interact with people who share a common passion.

“It’s really easy to access and play chess against other people who want to attend tournaments and attend meetings without being in person and without sacrificing my travel time,” said Arlet Medina, member of the club, sophomore in chemical engineering.

The CPP Kings Chess Club meets virtually every Friday at 1 p.m. via Discord with additional workshops on Mondays.

To join or learn more about membership, visit his Discord channel at https://discord.com/invite/kZwCRsn9fD.

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