Checkmate! Chess players compete in the Hoboken Tournament

Grand Street in Hoboken was hot with competition when over 40 chess players of all ages faced off in a tournament on Sunday at the Play! Hoboken facility.

The competition marked the club’s first chess tournament as well as the first chess event they have held in person since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Founded in 2019, Play! Hoboken is a city-based board game club that is home to an assortment of gaming activities – from virtual golf to billiards and board games like chess.

Peter Croce, veteran chess champion and trainer for more than 20 years, and Mike Messenger, who describes himself more as a casual player, supervised the tournaments for children and adults.

Croce is the main chess instructor at Play! Hoboken, while Messenger owns and manages all chess-related activities.

“The great thing about today is that it’s a stepping stone,” said Croce, the club’s head coach. “To have 40 people at a tournament today is a very big accomplishment.”

Messenger was delighted to oversee his first chess tournament.

“We had a good turnout and people are thrilled,” he said. “It means a lot to get to this point.”

The competitions for adults and for children were fast tournaments. Adults had 15 minutes and five seconds per player, while children had 30 minutes.

More than 40 chess players of all ages competed in a chess tournament in Hoboken.Marc Rotundo

Dan Seymour, 42, who started playing aged 5 and has played in 20 tournaments, jumped at the chance to play Sunday’s event after hearing from his fellow players at chess in Jersey City.

“(Chess is) a comfortable space because the dimensions are fixed,” he said. “It’s within the bounds of something that is knowable. It’s a world that I can understand, even when I don’t understand the world in general.

Other players like Kevin Lewis, 25, play the game of kings more casually and saw the tournament as a chance to have fun with his girlfriend, Kristy, who supported him in the tournament.

“Today I’m just trying to have fun, winning would be nice,” he said. “Chess is a great way to pass time. I like its complexity and sitting above the board and trying to figure things out.

Hudson Perls stands with the Cheese Tournament trophy

Hudson Perls (13) emerged victorious in the children’s speed chess tournament at Play! Hoboken.Marc Rotundo

At the end of the four-hour tournament, two winners emerged, Seymour in the adult division and 13-year-old Hudson Perls in the children’s division.

“(Perls) put a lot of time into it,” Croce said. “The kid is doing more than even I would encourage. It’s very legit.

Perls started playing chess about five years ago and recently practiced for four hours every day, according to Croce.

“Winning the tournament makes me feel good because I trained and studied a lot,” Perls said.

Seymour was exceptionally pleased with his victory, congratulating his fellow competitors.

“He feels good. I’ve beaten some really good players,” he said. “It’s the best I’ve played in a long time, so I’m very happy.”

Final chess match in the Hoboken tournament

Tournament champion Dan Seymour is considering a move as children’s tournament champion Hudson Perls looks on Sunday. (Mark Rotundo | The Jersey Journal)Marc Rotundo

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