chess club organizes official tournaments in Fort Wayne | Events

FORT WAYNE — During the pandemic, when people were stuck at home looking for ways to entertain themselves, chess had a moment.

It also didn’t hurt that the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” was a huge hit around this time, telling a fictional story of a chess prodigy’s rise to becoming world champion. .

But now, a Fort Wayne chess club is trying to bring the online gaming experience to the real world, hosting official US Chess Federation-rated tournaments in northeast Indiana.

For organizer Charles Vu, he played chess as a child, but never played in a real tournament. Like many people, he recently got back into chess during the pandemic and shared the game with his two sons – both of whom are already skilled mid-level players.

When they got interested in playing tournaments in person — what chess aficionados call playing “on the board” — there was nothing local.

By the time they were traveling, paying entrance fees, hanging out in an Indiana town for the day, the time and the costs really added up.

So why not solve this problem and bring the game closer to home?

“There are so many good players, players who really want to love chess and be more active in the tournament scene. Unfortunately, there’s nothing within an hour and a half of Fort Wayne so we wanted to make tournaments accessible to all skill levels,” Vu said. “The cost of chess tournaments can be prohibitive for some players to participate in chess tournaments. So one aspect, one benefit of this is to lower the barrier of entry for players, so that all players , regardless of their playing strength, can participate.

Via the Three Rivers Chess Club, Vu kicked off his first tournament over Memorial Day weekend, renting the clubhouse at Lions Park just south of the Coliseum Boulevard area near Purdue Fort Wayne and Ivy Tech, and has organized the local tournament.

Unlike many other tournaments, Vu does not charge an entry fee. Since tournaments are officially rated by the United States Chess Federation, players must be active members of the organization, but this comes with an annual fee of $20 for children or $45 for adults.

At the more recent July 9 tournament, the event had already garnered more attention, attracting 24 players in total – eight in an advanced section and 16 players in a lower-rated field.

The crowd he drew ranged from elementary school kids with beginning skills to sharp young players, experienced teenagers and adults, and even Indiana’s 15th highest ranked player.

“I think nothing can replace being across another player’s board, the intense focus like you see on the shows. You don’t see that online,” Vu said.

This mix of young and old, beginners and experts, is a good experience to meet other players, network, learn and have fun. Vu’s goal is to make it as accessible as possible and potentially attract players from all over northeast Indiana and beyond.

“It’s open to everyone and anyone. It’s great that we have some really good players in Fort Wayne as well as outside coming to these tournaments,” he said.

Vu said his goal is to hold tournaments every month as long as there is interest and people keep showing up. For now, Lions Park is the prime site, but events could move to a Fort Wayne library branch once the weather cools, he said.

Those interested in learning more or keeping tabs on the next event can follow on Facebook at facebook.com/threeriverschess.

(Editor’s note: The reporter for this story is a member of the American Chess Federation and has played in both Three Rivers Chess Club tournaments.)

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