Chess club planned for Scott County

Efforts are underway to organize a chess club for elementary and middle school-age children in Scott County.

Interest meetings are planned for Tuesday, May 1, at 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 5, at 10 a.m. at the Forest Public Library. The public is invited to attend either meeting. The Scott County Chess Club will serve children ages seven to 12 and parents or legal guardians should attend one of the meetings with their child.

Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a checkered gameboard with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. The game, played with 16 pieces moving in a variety of ways and believed to have originated in India before the seventh century, is played by millions of people worldwide.

Dianne McLaurin, assistant branch manager, said the club’s mission is two-fold including introducing children to the game and complementing chess activities of students in area schools.

“A library patron came to us recently and suggested the idea of starting a chess club here. We are excited about the idea and we are already aware of children who expressed interest,” McLaurin said. “The interest meetings will be designed to provide information about the club and determine how much interest exists.”

Chris Allen Baker of Forest, the library patron who suggested the idea, said the chess club is another great service the library can provide.

“My son, Aaron, 7, learned how to play chess through the gifted class at Forest Elementary School earlier this year and really caught on to it. I had always wanted to learn, and he taught me the game,” Baker said. “A friend of mine invited us to play with the chess club at the Brandon library and I thought, ‘why can’t we start a chess club here?’ I contacted Mrs. McLaurin, she was excited about the idea, CMRLS gave its blessing and here we are.”

Baker said more details will be available at the interest meetings, but the general operation of the club will be within the framework of the library’s operations.

“At this time, we envision children visiting the library on their own where they can check out a chess set or bring their own and play. The club will meet, say once a month, to talk about opportunities for chess activities such as tournaments and other options. The club can go in whatever direction the members want,” Baker said. “The club will seek opportunities for educational programs to help members learn the game.”

Funding has been secured to purchase at least four chess sets, and interest exists through donations for more. The chess sets would become the property of the library and could only be used by members of the club who would check the sets out and play during their library visit.

Baker said the club could provide a variety of opportunities for the community.

“There are so many advantages to chess. Some of them include learning and strengthening strategic thinking skills, stimulating brain activity, raising IQ level, sparking creativity, increasing problem-solving skills, improving reading skills, and optimizing memory improvement,” Baker said. “Its effects can overlap into other areas of students’ education.”

Plans also include inviting a chess expert to visit Forest to talk about the game and its benefit to students and the community.

“I am still working out the details, but efforts are underway to invite a chess professional who resides in Franklin County who may visit between now and the meetings or after the meetings if he cannot attend the meetings,” Baker said. “He has experience in successfully introducing the game to the elementary school where he teaches and has been featured in national media.”

For more information, a Facebook site has been established and requests can be sent to scottcountychessclub@yahoo.com.

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