Boise State Chess Club Opens to New and Returning Players – The Arbiter

The Boise State University Chess Club makes chess accessible to new players and experienced veterans alike.

Chess gained immense popularity online during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to security regulations, players had to stick to online games until recently. The on-campus chess club provides a great way to play off-board games.

Ty Pfost, senior electrical engineering major and club president, re-established the club in September 2021. Since then, it has grown to over 40 members of all skill levels.

“We basically have everyone from all rating levels,” said Diego Cowmey, a sophomore in political science. “We have people who have never played before and just want to improve, and we have experts in their own right.”

The club strives to be newbie-friendly and hosts in-person meetings that serve as a social experience, which encourages new and returning members to learn, experiment and improve, according to Pfost.

Ashley Hardy, senior primary school valedictorian, says she enjoys spending time at club meetings for this reason. She mentioned trying crazy moves that often caused her to lose the game.

“I’m one of the players who play for fun,” Hardy said. “We help people learn by going through different strategies, talking about different openings and working on endings, and just playing together because you learn more as you play.”

The club is very beginner friendly. Pfost says everyone is ready to teach and play newcomers.

“We mostly want people to try the game and learn how to play because it’s intimidating,” Pfost said. “People always associate it with intellect and knowledge, but it comes down to practice.”

A common misconception about chess is that it’s “very mathematical,” as Cowmey put it. The truth is that there are a variety of ways to play.

[Photo of a chess board.]
Elise Ledesma | The referee

“For me, chess is like a good argument. You’re constantly questioning your opponent’s play and asking about their position and they’re asking about yours,” Cowmey said.

Cowmey is one of the most experienced players who loves competition. Recently, the club participated in’s North American Collegiate Esports League (NACE) tournament, a competition for college clubs across the country.

Pfost says the club hopes to hold more online and in-person tournaments in the future for players who like to compete.

For now, the Boise State Chess Club is looking for anyone with an interest in chess. Members say one of the best parts of the club is the new people and experiences it provides.

“I think in-person games all the way [are] the best way to find fun in the game,” Pfost said. “Having someone to talk to, see their real face, comment on the game, mess around a bit is just a great way to improve, meet people and experience the game in a whole new way.”

There are many interesting stories about the history of chess which the members also share at the meetings.

“For example, there’s an opening in chess called the orangutan opening that got its name from a grandmaster who went to a zoo and apparently asked a monkey to play a move for him, and that’s how this opening got its name,” Cowmey said. said.

The future looks bright for the members of this young club. They’re excited to be here hanging out and playing chess at Boise State.

“On Friday night I could do other things,” Pfost said. “I could go to parties or hang out with my other friends, but I actually want to be home. [chess] club.”

The club meets in the Bronco Lounge inside the Student Union Building behind Subway on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at 7 p.m. and has a page.

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