Chess Club wants to demystify chess for beginners in Marquette – Marquette Wire
The pawns advance, the knights come to the flank, the queen leaps forward and the rook slips behind the defenses at deliver Move of mercy. The attack cannot be stopped, the king cannot move and it’s checkmate.
Chess is a game originally created in the 7th century in India, under the name “chaturanga”. But in the 11th century, the game spread to Persia, where it received its current name and jargon. Chess comes from “shah”, which means king, and checkmate from “shah mat”, which means “the king is powerless”.
Throughout its history, chess has been a benchmark for human genius, flair and artistry. Because of this, chess has a reputation as a game for geniuses, which Marquette Chess Club president Deven Johnson, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he hopes to change.
“I struggled with that for so long when I first thought about getting into chess,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to be a genius to get better at chess… You can be as good at chess as you want.”
Johnson said in chess, you get what you put in and it doesn’t matter how smart you are.
He mentioned how Hikaru Nakamura, the current sixth best chess player in the world, took a famous IQ test and the results showed average intelligence.
“His IQ was around 102. That was extremely average,” Johnson said. “He’s an incredible chess player, because he works a lot.”
Johnson said he learned chess rules as a child, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that he became very interested in the game.
“I didn’t take chess really seriously until the June 2020 pandemic. I just saw some interesting videos on YouTube about it and funny videos that caught my eye,” Johnson said. “I decided to start playing and I’ve been playing ever since. I started playing online, seriously, around September 2020.”
After taking a year off for COVID, Johnson said he knew he wanted to immerse himself in the chess club last fall.
“I was like, ‘Okay, Marquette’s chess club is probably not trivial,'” Johnson said. “Mostly, I just wanted to play with other people, learn from others, and see what chess was really about.”
Ross Dziallo, a sophomore at the College of Arts and Sciences, also played chess as a child, but said he was drawn to the game for another reason.
“My father played there with me; I enjoyed the simplicity of what you needed to play it and the sheer complexity of the game itself,” Dziallo said.
This year, the Chess Club held its first meeting on September 9 at the Alumni Memorial Union’s Brooks Lounge.
The club had different stations for all levels of players, which club vice-president Joe Marsicano, a senior at the College of Business Administration, wanted to see.
He said he and Johnson wanted to make the club more educational this year.
“We’re actually dedicated to teaching people and that’s something that we thought last year definitely could have been worked on a bit more,” Marsicano said.
He noted that anyone can join the club, no matter how talented you are or how long you’ve been playing chess.
“You would have never even heard of the game of chess and we would be more than happy to help and teach you,” Marsicano said.
The club plays in the Collegiate Chess League, where schools compete for $20,000. They play thirty-six rounds of chess over six weeks of the regular season. In the playoffs, they are placed into divisions and play bracket-style playoff rounds against other colleges.
In this league, the club not only competes with schools in the states, such as Duke University and The Ohio State University, but also with schools around the world.
“There was a school in India, as well as a school in Singapore,” Marsicano said. “So you just had a huge variety of different people that you would play around the world.”
Johnson said he wanted people who are hesitant to play chess to know that they shouldn’t be nervous about taking the next step.
“Go out and watch some content, go to YouTube and see how much fun it can be,” Johnson said. “For someone interested in chess, give it a go and you’ll find it’s a lot more fun than you think.”
This story was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JackAlbrightSJ.