The chess club welcomes veterans and newcomers alike

May 1 – While the Owensboro Chess Club meets in various locations and its members encompass a wide age range, there is one constant, and that is a genuine love for the game.

About half a dozen players climbed the stairs of the Daviess County Public Library on Thursday afternoon for the club’s final meeting, which included a good game of chess among its members.

Stephen Wilson said that although he did not start the club, he somehow oversees the weekday meeting at the library. The club also typically meets at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History on Sundays.

Club member Bob Meacham said he discovered the game 57 years ago.

“When I was 10, my grandfather in Memphis introduced me to chess,” he said. “My grandfather wasn’t very interested, but he taught me, and within six months I was beating him.”

After a period of inactivity with the game, Meacham decided to start playing again in his mid-50s.

“I started playing chess again and found that I improved my last grade just by playing on the computer,” Meacham said. “I started playing in tournaments, and that’s when I started meeting these guys.”

Ryan Abel said Owensboro’s highest rated chess player is an active member of the club.

Abel said he first learned the game from his father when he was growing up, and a good friend would come to his house for “blitz games” which they would play long Saturday nights before going to school. church on Sunday morning.

“It was a really good bonding time with my dad,” Abel said. “He was a really good player, and he was state-ranked in Mississippi.”

Abel said one of the things he loves about the game is that there is always room for improvement.

“The more you think you know the game, the more you learn that you don’t,” Abel said. “The more you learn, the more you learn, there’s more to learn. It’s limitless.”

Player points and rankings are tracked by the US Chess Federation.

“There’s pressure, you have to win games and you get points,” Abel said.

A player can earn points and improve their ranking by beating higher ranked players.

“If you beat someone with 200 more points than you, you’ll get some nice points,” Abel said. “But if you start losing games, your ranking will go down.”

Grant Collins is one of the club’s newest members.

While Collins started playing chess in college, he eventually quit. But it was a popular Netflix miniseries that brought him back.

“I think I’m going to have to pull out the ‘Queen’s Gambit’ card,” he said. “I started playing online, and it was during COVID-19, so you really couldn’t go anywhere.

“I don’t even remember when I saw there was a chess club, but it wasn’t very long after I came to Sunday meetings and met Bob and Chuck, and for a very long time it was just the three of us, and then I started coming on Tuesday nights, and it’s a bit of a flip-flop between Tuesday and Thursday.”

Wilson said attendance at Owensboro Chess Club meetings tended to fluctuate from week to week, and that about 14 people attended the club’s previous meeting.

Since Owensboro alternates hosting chess tournaments with Evansville, the next tournament in Owensboro will be in June.

For more information on the Owensboro Chess Club, call Stephen Wilson at 270-313-3226.

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