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Chess Trek: The Adventure Awaits


Just like driving a car.

Anybody can do it; just sit down and go. It takes a while to get good at; few begin as masters of their environment. And it's fun; except when it's +35 with no air conditioning.

Chess is the universal game that has no natural barriers. Age doesn't matter. There are chess players from 3 to 93. Gender doesn't matter. There is no advantage being male or female. Race doesn't matter. You do not have to be Russian to be a good chess player. Social status doesn't matter. You do not have to be rich or popular or brilliant to play chess - you can even be poor and despised and dim and be the president of a chess club!

Why, then, are there not people playing chess all over, as prevalent as drivers on Albert St.?

The long history of chess has always had certain stereotypes associated with it that has turned many who know how to play away. Playing the game became more of an eccentricity, than a leisurely pastime. Images of stodgy old men in dimly lit rooms filled with nothing but silence and smoke have not been great drawing cards for chess clubs or even casual chess playing in public view.

Albert Street would be pretty much devoid of traffic if driving required formal attire, cigar smoke, and maintaining the noise level to that of a library.

But fear not, for just as drivers know that they can toddle down Albert St. in just about any way they wish, so too, can people play chess without the rigid and unappealing stereotypes. Enter the Regina Chess Club.

Operating in virtual anonymity for over 25 years, the RCC has taken great strides to promote chess throughout not only Regina, in the schools, through public events, and in the local media, but also throughout Saskatchewan. The RCC even moved into the new millennium with the launching of this website.

The RCC holds meetings every Thursday night from 7-9pm at the Cathedral Neighborhood Centre on 13th Ave at Retallack St. Meetings are come and go format, open to anyone interested in learning how to play, improving their play, or just wanting some casual games in an open, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere. Just show up and play!

The club organizes and runs tournaments on a regular basis; those for fun, intended for any level of player to be part of the tournament experience, and the nationally sanctioned kind for those who want to partake in the serious and strongly competitive chess event. The latter include the Regina and Saskatchewan Championships.

Another aspect of chess the RCC has taken a significant role in is Youth Chess. Chess is wonderful game that also has great duplicity in that it teaches and reinforces such skills as logic, spatial relations, geometry, creative thinking and planning, numerous other mathematical conjuncts, and stresses courtesy and sportsmanship. The best part is: all this secondary learning takes place while a vast multitude of kids believe they are simply playing a game.

Chess has been incorporated into the math curriculum in such provinces a Quebec, Ontario, B.C., and even P.E.I., and it is no coincidence that those provinces has seen a significant jump in the math grade averages in the schools and that those provinces are consistently the top performers at the National Scholastic Chess Championships each year.

Each year the RCC puts on demonstrations at various schools and libraries and helps others to set up and establish chess clubs. It assists with the organization and operation of local school tournaments, the High School Chess League, the Scholastic Chess Series, which runs city, provincial and national scholastic competitions, and even a Summer Chess Camp for kids. It is hoped that a new generation of people will develop who simply enjoy playing the game of chess and can readily do so if they desire to, and, that our children can reap similar rewards to those that are being seen in other provinces.

Just about everybody knows how to play chess. Some wouldn't be caught dead playing it though. Some restrict themselves to playing anonymously on the internet. Some would love to play, but can't find the opportunity. That's not the way it has to be. Not many of us would be caught dead driving if we thought we were going to be mocked, laughed at, or ridiculed.

But that is not how it is, and so we all drive, some better than others, some in need of instruction, some because they want to be the best or the fastest or the most famous, some just for fun.

So jump into your car and come on down to the Regina Chess Club. Or just get a board and have a game at home, or on your coffee break at work or in Wascana Park beside the lake. You probably have one somewhere in your house right now.

Chess is a fun and stimulating game without violence or prejudice, and you can set up a board just about anywhere.

John McIntyre
Regina Chess Club