Outdoor chess club a hit with local Washingbay community

Chess fanatics in the Co Tyrone area have been busy in recent months with the establishment of a large outdoor chess club in the Washingbay.

Residents of Derrytresk and surrounding areas have become involved in the activity of the club, which is run by a Dutchman who has settled in the area.

Jelmer Hania runs the club and attends it with her son and many others, having established it during lockdown as a way to bring people together at the Washingbay Community Center.

Jelmer told MyTyrone: “We have a chess club in the Derrytresk area here but it all came to a halt due to Covid as we couldn’t meet indoors.

“You can play chess online and all that stuff, but the great thing about chess is that you can meet and chat with other players.

“I always had the idea of ​​an outdoor chess club and the funding came through the OneWorld organization for these great outdoor chess games.

“I thought it was perfect for us because it meant we could social distance and we could play under all regulations.”

With the funding, five full-size chess sets were purchased and the group met regularly when it was safe to do so.

“In summer, with the good weather, it attracts a lot of people. We play in the parking lot of the Washingbay Center and now there is a cafe, it’s perfect and people love to come there.

“It’s mostly families coming, it’s a great opportunity to learn the game and that’s one of the things where it’s a great opportunity for families to do things together.

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“I come from the Netherlands and I grew up with chess. I’m not an exceptional player, I know the rules and I could play a decent game but I wouldn’t participate in competitions or anything like that.

The club took a break for the summer but will resume at the end of August, so Jelmer said new players are also welcome.

He added: “Once you’re in the game, the size of the board doesn’t really matter, you just get absorbed in the game.

“We have a cool little group there, and it’s great for kids too because it’s a great game for development, it teaches you a bit of math and strategy as well.”

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