Club promotes strategy, critical thinking

Emily Brown, Copy Editor

The hand of the clock ticks away. It’s a face-off between two freshmen in a game of intelligence, not luck.

They tap their fingers, mutter quietly and twirl the game pieces that now belong to them.

It is a battle of two brilliant minds. And only one will win.

Every Tuesday, the members of Chess Club learn different strategies of the game of chess.

“Learning chess is really good mental stimulation,” club sponsor Richard Gill said. “It forces you to think in terms of consequences. ‘What are they going to? If they do this what am I going to do? Where am I weak? Where am I strong?’ The whole thinking process is very important.”

Chess consists of three main components.

The first component is the opening, or the first 10 moves. Each player has different openings that they prefer.

The second is the middle game. This is where the strategy comes in.

The third component is the end game. This is when you get down to only a few pieces.

“The middle game is where great players beat good players,” Gill said. “There is no luck involved. You have to be able to work out what you are going to do.”

Freshman Calum Fletcher said that figuring out ways to win is his favorite part of the game.

“One time, I faced one of the top guys in the chess club I was on,” he said. “I beat him because I did a lucky thing with the castle that he didn’t notice. I felt kind of bad afterwards when he started crying under the table. But I felt good because it meant I beat a good chess player.”

Gill said social skills are developed and friendships are formed in the Chess Club.

“Chess gives some of these people a group to belong to and a sense of participating in the school that they wouldn’t get otherwise,” he said. “This is what they do for Blue Valley High School.”

Chess tournaments have elementary, middle and high school divisions.

There are six rounds and each time a student is playing someone with the same record.

Each player has 30 minutes to make all of their moves.

They have a clock that will time them until they have finished their move.

You can lose by your king getting captured or by running out of time.

“It is important to be ready to move when it is your turn,” Gill said. “Learning to think well under pressure is a good skill. It is a skill you can use in real life too.”

Freshman Michael Thompson said he participated in too many tournaments to count.

“I get nervous after the game,” Thompson said. “I fret over how could I have done better. What were my mistakes? I worry about the little errors. I don’t worry about losing as a whole because losing is just another way to learn.”

Chess taught Thompson how to read facial expressions.

“Though the strategic part of chess is incredibly fun, the interaction with the players is even better,” he said. “You get see your opponents think and make decisions.”

Gill said that chess is a game that you can play for the rest of your life.

“Chess is a game that really takes 5 minutes to learn and a whole lifetime to master,” Gill said.