Chess camp to inspire young enthusiasts | Diversions
Zac Wilson has a passion for chess.
The 48-year-old man almost alone pushed for the creation of a chess club in Hood County.
“When the pandemic hit it really messed up my business with my travel company, as you can imagine, and you know life was pretty stressful,” Wilson said. “And so, I was looking for a way to personally relax and have fun, and I had always wanted to play competitive chess.”
The club president will soon have a new audience – and much younger – to extol the virtues of chess when he holds a camp at the Hood County YMCA December 27-30 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. To register, visit the YMCA website or the Hood County Chess Club Facebook page. Wilson will be hosting two different chess conferences covering different topics with an open recreation in between.
Chess is an abstract strategy game played by two people (one controlling white pieces and the other black) on a square board with 64 squares arranged in an eight by eight grid. Each player controls 16 pieces: a king, a queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops and eight pawns. The object of the game is to checkmate the opposing king, leaving the piece nowhere to move. A match can also end in a draw.
Wilson started the Hood County Chess Club, an affiliate of the United States Chess Federation, in 2020 because there were no places to play.
“I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a chess club, you know, an official American chess club in Granbury, Glen Rose, Weatherford or Stephenville, and I was like, man, he Surely there are chess players here, ”Wilson said.
Wilson contacted USCF and his dream of a club in Hood County grew.
Finding a place where his club can feel at home was a challenge at first. COVID infections were on the rise and much of Hood County was shut down.
“The hardest part was trying to find a place that would actually allow us to meet in person and be able to play because, of course, you know masks are mandatory and people are worried about COVID,” he said. Wilson said.
The late Shad Ramsey offered Wilson and his club space at the Langdon Center. Since then, they have found their way there.
Wilson, like many in the club, never passes up an opportunity to preach the gospel of chess.
“If a new person comes in, I take the time to teach them a few concepts,” Wilson said. “Sometimes he’s a whole new person, so I have to teach them the rules and how things work. Other times it’s someone who’s been playing for a while but really wants to improve. Everyone seems to be quite welcoming and excited when someone new arrives.
Seniors make up the majority of club members. New blood was needed.
Holding a camp at the YMCA seemed like a natural next step. Wilson volunteered to run the camp, hoping to attract large numbers of loyal young people.
Membership in the Hood County Chess Club is free, but donations are appreciated to help pay her annual membership fee to USCF and purchase new equipment. The club meets every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Langdon Center.