“Chess helps you to concentrate, and improves your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions. And it trains you how to solve problems in uncertain environments.”
So says one Gerry Kasparov, Chess Grandmaster and former World Chess Champion. But the ancient game is also much more than this — organizers of a fledging Cranbrook chess club see the game as a powerful unifying force, and a way to bring a community together.
It is also a lot of fun — and a forum over which anyone can get together face to face, no matter what their differences.
One of the prime motivators behind getting the club up and running is Hans Dekkers.
Dekkers cited his interest in community-building, and also spoke of the segretions in society — how people will generally stick to their own groups, whether these be based on age, religion, class, income, or language.
Dekkers said that often, the crises we face in our society is a result of these divides. But chess is one of those things that overcomes these segregations.
“We’re prone to this [segregating ourselves into groups] — so it’s wonderful to do things that bring us together, that unite us instead of divide us.
“And chess is a perfect vehicle for this. It bridges gender, it bridges class, it bridges religion. And it’s our hope and desire that we get this mix. I love the dynamics of young people developing warm relationships with older people, and older people develop warm relationships with younger people — bridging those generational gaps.”
So far, the nascent club is on track to achieve this goal. Quite a few people have expressed interest in joining a Cranbrook chess club, individuals ranging in age from 14 to over 70. Dekkers added that Gail Rousseau of School District 5 had an enthusiastic response to the plan. So there may end up being a youth movement in chess.
“You never know — maybe 10 years from now Cranbrook will become this hothouse generating chess players the same way we generate ski talent.,” Dekkers said.
He is concerned that in this age of smart phones, apps, video games, et al, that chess is at risk of being misunderstood, and eventually forgotten, despite its long lineage and infinite possibilities. But the 1,300-plus-year-old game is still very relevant to the modern world. “It’s hands-on, it’s face-to-face.”
Dekkers feels a minimum membership of 15 to 20 individuals is required to launch proceedings. There is already a designated space for the club — a room in Kootenay Christian Academy school, which adjoins Cranbrook Alliance Church on Kootenay Street.
The club is scheduled to meet Wednesday evenings, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Every meeting will include games and training. Players of equal calibre will be matched against each other, and higher level players will serve as instructors and mentors. Video instruction into the fine points of the game is also planned.
If you are interested in joining the Cranbrook Chess Club, or seeking more information, check out the website cranbrookchess.com. Or go to www.facebook.com/cranbrookchess. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.