College’s Chess Club carries its own history

Frank Arthur Williams, founder of the Chess Club, has had a passion for the game since he was a young. “I started playing when I was in the sixth grade. A lady taught us [students] to play chess. I enjoy playing any games — checkers, card games or anything.” Photo by Andrew Hartnett

Aksinya Kichigina

Reporting Correspondent

The Chess Club holds a tournament each semester, a couple weeks before finals arrive.

“We play chess on Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m. Anybody from a beginner player to a master player may play,” said founder of the Chess Club Frank Arthur Williams.

Today the Chess Club is actively growing and becoming popular among students, and that is all thanks to Williams, who first came to the college with his daughter, who needed help with statistics class. The first thing he noticed on campus was the absence of a chess club, so he decided to create one.

“I started Chess Club about six or seven years ago, and as long as I can still come up here and play, I will keep Chess Club in existence,” said Williams.

Frank moved the original meeting area from the Regnier Center to the cafeteria in order to attract more members. 

“First year, we picked up 50 more names. Before the semester was over, we had six or seven tables playing chess,” he said.

During the first year, the club did not have a tournament due to a small amount of people involved. Nevertheless, the next year, Williams hosted a tournament and they played it right before finals.

“The first two or three years, I did not play because maybe it wouldn’t be fair. But then I started playing [the tournament] and still have not won the ‘Johnson County Community Chess Champion’ title,” Williams said.

Students began playing chess for many different reasons, be it through peers or parents.

“I started playing somewhere around fifth and sixth grade. A lot of my friends got into the game, and I got hooked,” said student Evan Belden.

Belden didn’t have a lot of chess players in his house, so the only way he could play was by getting together with friends or using a chess app on his phone.

“I developed the basic skills from friends and reading the chess box,” said Belden. “But mainly I developed further understanding of the game on my own — for instance, how to connect certain pieces together and maneuver them.”

Belden said the Chess Club helped him get better as a player, but he realizes he’s never going to be a pro.

“To be a Grandmaster is not my future, though. I see it strictly as a hobby, finding new strategies,” he said.

Another member of the club, Lisa Sweden, began playing chess by virtue of her father.

Just like Belden, Sweden joined the Chess Club with the purpose of improving her skills. She has also used other means to help her improve.“My dad had gotten a chess board, and we started playing that. But I have not played that much at all,” Sweden said.

“I have watched YouTube and checked out books in the library about famous games and how this person won,” Sweden said.

Throughout the time Sweden has played, she learned not to get frustrated with the game and to think about each move she makes.

As Williams stated, “Chess is the game anybody can win. Even though you are the best doesn’t mean that you won’t screw up.”


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