Checkmate: Interviews with the local library chess club by Elaha Moosa, Gumley House School
Simon Williams (a grandmaster) once said “The beauty of chess is that it can be whatever you want it to be. It transcends language, age, race, religion, politics, gender and socioeconomic background. No matter what your circumstances, anyone can enjoy a good fight to the death on the chessboard. I saw this quote come to life in Central’s weekly chess club Ealing Library.Taking place from 1.30-3.30pm every Sunday, I had planned to visit after seeing the poster hanging on the library wall: a chance to explore this 1500 year old board game.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a multitude of chessboards and tables, all eager to watch a checkmate. However, while I waited for what I thought was the average chess club attendee – a wise old grandmaster – I was instead greeted by mother Enshul and her five-year-old son. His son was quick to mount a chessboard and fiercely challenge another young chess player. I marveled at the sight of two combatants in the joyful war called chess, especially at such a young age. This pleasant surprise made me curious to learn more about Enshul and his son’s journey with chess. When asked what she thinks is the most interesting thing about chess, Enshul replied that “it’s good, no language barrier, no age barrier, two people focusing on the game, no matter who is sitting in front”. His answer proved true as I watched children continue to play, strangers and yet communicate happily through chess as if it were a language! My intrigue grew as Enshul told me that she, her husband and son had recently moved to the UK from India and that her son had “adjusted well” – clearly carrying his chess skills over 4000 miles, ringing true to how universal chess is. Language.
Alongside Enshul and his son, I met a father and his 8-year-old son, Riyan, another avid young chess player. He started by playing with his father, racing against time as he calculated his next move. When I inquired about Riyan’s beginnings in chess, I found out that he started 3 years ago, when he was 5, just because they “had him at home”. Playing chess started out as a ‘weekend activity’ for Riyan but ‘he got good at it and I started liking it’,
Having frequented the club, I had my eyes opened to the range of chess players and that chess can be more than just a game, even for those as young as 5! I found that attending the club gave me a new perspective on chess, a game that I once thought was complicated and only for geniuses. However, as Simon Williams said, chess can “transcend language, race, religion, politics, gender and socio-economic background”. – a feat for what it is. It is obvious that our misconceptions about “difficult” activities, such as chess, can prevent us from finding a potential passion; instead, we should release worries and just be open to learning and exploring – just like Riyan and Enshul’s son.
Thanks to Central Ealing Library for hosting this amazingly insightful chess club and to everyone who enlightened me in this interview!