Peak Virtual Academy student Nathan Mathieu had been searching high and low for a chess club to test his abilities in the game.
As a self-taught chess player, he eventually found one in the place he most frequents, the Montrose Regional Library.
“I saw a flyer on the door and I thought that would just be something for me to join because I have been looking for one for a bit,” Mathieu said.
Mathieu as well as 27 other participants — ages ranging from young children to adults — engaged in a free chess club event Thursday evening inside the library’s meeting room.
The idea of offering the game is something librarian James Stetson had been mulling about for some time. He said after gauging patrons’ interests in the fall of last year, he thought it would be great to run the club concurrently with the library’s summer reading program.
Following two introductory classes back in May, Stetson launched a soft opening for the chess club on June 7. The group event will be a monthly occurrence with the next one scheduled for July 3.
He indicated he finds the game can be important for kids as it can help with their development.
“When they are doing it with families, they’re able to build social skills and learning to be good sports, whether winning or losing,” Stetson said. “... The strategy behind chess requires people to think things through more than one or two spaces out but it doesn’t force it.”
That aspect of the game — the tactics — is Mathieu’s favorite, he said, adding chess is a competition based on thinking, not luck.
“I enjoy it because it’s different,” Mathieu said. “Every piece moves differently. There are many ways you can play it. I’ve played it with a bunch of people and I like being surprised and seeing a strategy that I have never even thought about before.”
As part of the club, it’s available for beginners to experts. Stetson said he finds that key because chess is a game that’s not determined how well one plays by age.
“When we have the little kids, who are really good, against the adults, who haven’t played ever, it’s kind of like a balancing act,” Stetson said. “It’s not just the older kids or the grown-ups teaching down to the children. The children are the teachers, the older people are teachers. Everybody gets to have a part in it.”
For the younger ones, chess offers an avenue to learn not only strategy but important life skills, he added.
“It helps them stave off instant gratification,” Stetson said. “... By playing the game with other people online, it provides me and the kids here an opportunity to practice patience and self-control. Those are skills when practiced over enough times, they’ll start to see another habit in their lives.”
For more information on the chess club, visit montroselibrary.org/event/chess-club or call 970-249-9656, option 2.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.