The Recorder – Greenfield Chess Club relaunches weekly meetings

Posted: 11/26/2021 17:00:29 PM

Modified: 11/26/2021 17:00:12

GREENFIELD – The Greenfield Chess Club held its first meeting since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, led by 90-year-old veteran chess master Herbert Hickman.

Hickman and his daughter, Linda Hickman, retired director of the Montague Library, met a small group of chess players on November 10 at Greenfield Games for occasional table matches. While attendance amounted to a humble handful at the club’s first reunion, the quiet evening was of tremendous significance to Herbert, who has primarily played chess from a distance for the past decade.

The Hickmans are hoping that the continuation of the meetings, now weekly from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, will not only nourish Greenfield’s chess culture, but bring a human element back to the former player’s lifelong passion.

Hickman began his chess journey at the age of 15 in Pittsburg, Pa., When he joined his high school chess club.

“My dad was always smart, but he grew up in the shadow of his older brother,” Linda said. “Chess was the first thing he found he was better than his brother at.”

He recalled that after winning a championship in Pittsburg at age 17, he competed in competitions such as the Pennsylvania Junior Championship, the Junior National Championship, the US Open Chess Championship and the Arizona State Championship, winning this last before moving mainly to play via postcard later in adulthood.

“I’ve been playing correspondence chess primarily for the last 10 years or so,” Hickman said.

He said he appreciates how the postal and electronic methods have given players “a lot of flexibility” to stay in touch with each other, an aspect of chess that Hickman holds dear.

“You meet a variety of people,” he said of the play. “It is convenient.”

Linda noted that the social aspect of playing chess was a motivation to revive the chess club, stressing the importance of connecting in person.

“Part of the reason I wanted to bring him back was for socializing,” Hickman said. “With COVID, we haven’t been together for that long and it’s a good opportunity to connect.”

Bringing people together wasn’t the only motivation, however. Linda also hopes that the Greenfield Chess Club can transcend antiquity and bring fun to a younger generation of players.

“Beyond socialization, this is an opportunity to encourage failure for all ages once children are immunized,” she said.

Calder Rossi, a veteran chess player who once ran the club, said the main reason he was excited about restarting the club is that he will be able to bring his 9-year-old son soon, as he was before the pandemic .

“I can’t wait to bring my son here when he gets vaccinated,” Rossi said.

He pointed out that for him, the importance of chess outweighs it being a fun game.

“In my personal life,” said Rossi, “when I felt bad I would always come back to chess.”

Hickman agreed, grateful the failures had helped keep his mind sharp.

“It’s a very useful hobby,” he said. “It teaches people how to focus and really concentrate. ”

Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]

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