Sidney Chess Club makes opening gambit for new players – Vancouver Island Free Daily

French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal once called chess a gymnasium of the mind.

On the Saanich Peninsula, this mental conditioning studio is on the second floor of the SHOAL Center for Seniors, where the “Chessnuts” of the Sidney Chess Club meet every Tuesday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. for matches in a competitive but also social that welcomes all levels.

“If you’ve played chess before and want to get back into it slowly, slowly, this is a great place to come,” club spokesman Mark Jarrett said. “We’re competitive to a point, but it’s about friendship. It’s about socializing and intense chess games, which we all enjoy.

Formed four years ago, the club has been forced to scale down operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that hiatus is over and the Chesssnuts (a tribute to the club’s inception around the Christmas season) are ready to welcome new members while showing off their moves at the Grand Pacific Open Chess Tournament in Victoria, April 15-18.

Club members Jim Sweet and Alan Kell entered the contest. “A lot of us played chess years ago,” Sweet said. “I used to play chess a lot, when I was younger and when I was in college and I played in tournaments. But that was a long time ago, a long time ago .

But that passage of time hasn’t diminished her love for the game. “The more you play it, the more you fall in love with it,” Sweet said. “It’s just a wonderful game. It’s the best game in the world. »

There are many factors behind the game’s appeal, Kell said. “It’s not like cards or football or soccer or rugby,” he said. “Every player has the same pieces and it’s you and your mind.”

To roughly summarize the vast literature on chess theory, it is a full information game without random events, or to use a more vernacular term, luck.

The only such element is the method of determining who can play with white pieces, which always move first to give that player an advantage.

The appeal of the game also lies in the ability to encounter and solve problems with forethought, creativity and planning, relying solely on intellect.

“It’s mind over matter, basically,” Sweet said.

While chess players can rely on a large volume of training material and technology through puzzle applications, Chessnuts rely on a more organic approach by playing full games in which they talk often to help each other learn.

As such, they oppose the perception that chess players are socially awkward, a theme that runs through many popular depictions of chess such as Netflix’s recent hit Queen’s Gambit..

That’s not to say club members who watched didn’t appreciate it. Rather the opposite. “It was a story that grabbed you,” Jarrett said.

Sweet, who also praised the series not only for its failures but also for other topics, also recalled once meeting an Eastern European player with similar skills to the fictional Elizabeth Harmon from the series.

“At the end of the game, she could just refer to a position and instantly reset the board to that situation and then replay it saying ‘this is what you should have done,’” Sweet said. “People who have that ability is something.”

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