Chess club looks to the future while maintaining friendly atmosphere


As a small club, Lafayette Chess has a casual and fun atmosphere in which new members without experience are welcome. (Photo courtesy of Ed Carl ’22 for The Lafayette)

By Caroline McParland, Sports editor

During the pandemic, many have looked for hobbies to keep busy with during times of isolation. For sophomore Sam Anthony, this hobby was chess. Anthony is now serving as the chess club president as it looks to expand in numbers after they recently elected a new executive board.

Anthony explained that as a kid, he grew up playing chess with his brothers. While his passion fizzled out after elementary school, his interest was renewed during Covid.

“I could play online, and I had nothing else to do so I got back into it. They have a club [at Lafayette], so I just play with the guys there,” Anthony said.

While Covid brought Anthony’s interest in chess back, it was difficult to interact with the club from home. 

“I was in the GroupMe, but it was so hard to get games going since we didn’t have actual meetings,” Anthony said.

Now, the club meets once a week on Fridays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Pardee, room 102.

When it comes to picking who to play with during meetings, the club doesn’t have a strict setup.

“With a small and consistent group, you know where each of us rank. You kind of just seek out the players that are around you,” Anthony said.

The executive board is on the younger side, giving them time to look into the future of the club. Freshman Charlie Mann is currently the vice president, Sophomore Remi Wesnofske is secretary, and Freshman Will Denton is treasurer.

“There’s a lot of banter because we know each other pretty well. A lot of people think that chess is very intellectual, but it’s very in your face,” Anthony said. “If someone makes a mistake, you’ll get on them but you know that’s gonna be you in about two minutes. You just go back and forth, and it’s a lot of fun.”

As of right now, the club hasn’t been participating in any inter-collegiate competitions. 

“Chess is just one of those things where it’s kind of easy to set things up, unlike other sports where you have to travel and stuff. You can just text your friends at Lehigh or whatever, and be like, ‘Hey, do you want to get a game going?’” Anthony said.

Competitions are something Anthony wants to work on scheduling in the future.

“I do think getting unofficial games going would be a lot easier, but eventually I do want to get a more official style tournament going,” Anthony said.

While they spend meetings playing chess, the club also holds group discussions.

“Occasionally, we will discuss some tournament or whatever is going on. We talked a lot about the World Chess Championship,” he said.

Anthony explained that there are different styles and time controls you can choose from to play the game. 

“‘Bullet is the fastest. You can have one minute each and then the game’s over in two minutes,” Anthony said.

Anthony said that another example is classical, which is used in most official tournaments and can go on for hours. 

“We usually do blitz or rapid, so anywhere from three minutes each, maybe ten minutes each,” Anthony said.

Looking into the future, Anthony aims to welcome new people interested in the game, including his friends.

“I will probably get some more friends involved,” he said. “Sometimes you just want to get them to share some of your hobbies.”

Those who aren’t familiar with chess are welcome to attend meetings.

“As one of the better players, you do want to play newer players and just kind of talk them along,” Anthony said. “If somebody new wanted to join and didn’t know anything, I’d probably just take them aside and just go through the pieces and general tactics.”

Anthony is confident he could help a new player get oriented with the club quickly.

“I think an hour and a half is more than enough time to get the basic stuff down,” Anthony said. “You can throw them into a game because at some point you do want to expose them to some level of competition.”

Anyone interested in joining chess club can reach out to Anthony at [email protected].