Although it may be associated with unpopular and nerdy stereotypes, chess has seen astronomical growth within the past 9-10 months. The most popular online chess websites like lichess.org and chess.com have reported a huge amount of new users starting near the beginning of the pandemic.
During the pandemic, the desire to try new hobbies, the growth of the streaming platform Twitch, and the release of the popular Netflix show ‘The Queens Gambit’ have all contributed to the resurgence chess has seen recently.
Emerging out of the fire the game’s recent popularity has started, a chess club has been born. The club meets biweekly, on Mondays and Thursdays after school in room 1513.
“I didn’t intend to start one. Just to join one,” remarks James Swindler, president, and founder of the chess club.
“When summer came around and I was preparing to go to high school, I got one of those back-to-school papers with all the electives and clubs and stuff. I flew through the thing, searching for a chess club, and I found it!”
The only problem, however, was that after the 2019-20 school year, there would be no one to continue the chess club.
“I realized that the former president had decided to leave because no one had joined the previous year. So I did a few things, changed some stuff, and by my almost singlehanded efforts grew the club to about ten people in a single year,” explains Swindler.
The club is can be an environment for serious chess, casual chess, and a place for people to hang out in general. The members often host tournaments and competitive games, but they are always happy to teach someone new to the game how to play.
“If people want to join, they can really just walk into Ray’s [room] whenever they feel like it. They don’t even have to play chess. They can just chat, do homework, I don’t care. It’s only a chess club for the people who want to play chess. For everyone else, I just want it to be a fun place where people can enjoy themselves,” explains Swindler.
So whether you have an interest in board games, or in finding cool new people to hang out with, the chess club is always open to new members!