It’s a game that has been played for centuries and enjoys global appeal.
But in recent years, chess has endured the competition of video games - including video chess, where a single player tries to outwit a computer chip.
Those wishing to pit their skills against fellow flesh and bone can attend weekly meetings of the Chess Club at the Tahlequah Public Library.
“Right now, we are averaging between five and 14 players a week, ranging from about age 5 to teenagers,” said organizer Bob Moore, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran. “The club is intended for children, but parents and grandparents often accompany their children and play, so adults can take part.”
Tanner Elliott, 14, was matched against Caleb Girdner, 10, during Wednesday’s meeting.
“I only started playing about a year or two ago,” Tanner said. “I didn’t know how to play, so my mother brought me in to a meeting to learn. I enjoy the strategy. I’d describe myself as an aggressive player.”
Moore said his interest in chess dated to his childhood, but initially his father believed he was too young to learn the game.
“I had somebody else teach me,” he said. “Right away, I could beat the other kids, and very shortly afterward, I was beating the adults.”
Moore has been named intercollegiate chess champion in Kansas and did win a victory over an U.S. Armed Services champion.
He said his ability to anticipate moves matches that of grandmasters, but that competitive masters play more games and enjoy the advantage of experience.
“An example is, I might not be able to decide whether to move a bishop a space to the left or right,” he said. “A grandmaster has the experience and will know which direction to move, from general intuition.”
Where Moore’s skills shine most brilliantly is in chess problems, or compositions. Chess problems are designed to give a player a task to achieve. They sometimes appear in newspapers and are offered online.
“I hold some world records in chess problems,” Moore said. “Many of them have appeared in printed periodicals. I am much better at those than actually playing chess.”
Moore has run the Chess Club for several years, and enjoys helping children learn the game.
“It’s good for your mind,” he said. “Most who attend are beginners who just want to learn the game. If there are children who want to become better at basic strategy and be better players, I can show them how during the club meetings.”
Turning toward a match between Sloan French, 10, and Elijah Lindstrom, 8, Moore offered his observations.
“[Lindstrom] is in a worse position because his king has already moved,” he said. “His game is rough at the moment, but then what [French] should have done on his move is take the queen.”
The Chess Club meets every Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m. in the library’s Carnegie Room.
“Our meetings are open and everyone is invited to attend,” Moore said. “In particular, we would like to invite girls to play. We have had three or four girls who attended in the past, but would like girls to participate. Chess isn’t just for boys.”
For details on the history and rules of the game of chess, go to tahlequahTDP.com