Checkmate! New Chess Club Pawned a Huge Success

“You Don’t Have to be Good.” Chess club is open to beginner and expert players. Photo courtesy of Gabby Franzese.

The New Paltz Chess Club is the place to be on Wednesday nights. The club already had an overwhelming number of new members at their first meeting.

 This meeting was held on Wednesday, Nov. 3 and over 50 students attended. Roan Martin, second-year transfer student, computer science major and president of the club, was ecstatic with how the club has been going this semester.

“I first started playing as a child when I was in my elementary school’s chess club, so I always knew the rules of the game, but I would have never expected to get so into it over lockdown,” Martin stated. “I took a gap year between colleges, and without the regiment of school, I desperately needed something to keep my mind stimulated.”

Martin always planned on joining the chess club on campus when they started attending New Paltz, but was disappointed to learn it had fizzled out during the pandemic.

“I heard that they needed a new president, and decided that it would be an opportunity to build the exact environment that I would have wanted when I was just starting out,” Martin explained.

New members have said they had a positive experience while attending the meetings. 

“The club is super inclusive of all types of players, the president gave lessons to all types of players so there’s definitely a welcoming environment,” said second-year psychology major Libby Green who decided to give chess a whirl after watching the Netflix Series “The Queen’s Gambit.”

If you were to drop by one of their meetings, you would be greeted with tables filled with chess boards ready to be used. 

“In the previous two meetings, I have taken a group of beginners aside and taught a lesson on basic chess rules, principles and strategy so that they are better equipped to enter the frenzy at the center of the room,” stated Martin. “There is a queue if there are not enough boards for everybody, but in our previous meeting nobody had to wait too long before a new board opened up.”

The club has posted colorful posters all over campus and social media with the slogan “You Don’t Have To Be Good” as their tag-line. This makes the club seem more appealing to new members who aren’t experts but still want to participate. The president wanted the club to be inviting to everyone. 

“Chess is really not a game of intellect and cutthroat competition. Once the curtain is pulled back and you find some nice people to play with, it is a game full of laughter, drama, artistry and self-expression,” Martin stated.

The advertisements for the club were proven to be beneficial and the first meetings received a wide array of new members eager to test their chess skills. There were hardly enough chess boards to accompany the number of participants available. 

“We scrambled to ransack the neighboring rooms for more chairs and tables,” Martin stated. “I so desperately wanted to promise that everyone could play for the majority of the time, so the next week was a mad dash to triple our inventory before the next meeting.”

As the second meeting rolled around, the club was better prepared for the large crowd. It was just as successful as the first meeting, and the club seems to be getting more elaborate every day. 

“I am so excited to continue working on this club, and our members can expect nothing but improvement with each meeting,” Martin stated. “We have big plans for the future to make the New Paltz Chess Club experience even better, so if you have not stopped by yet, now is an excellent time to get involved.”

If you’re looking for a new club to join on campus, check out the Chess Club on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. in SUB 414.