Of pawns and kings: The GW Chess Club

With hundreds of registered student organizations at GW, chances are pretty good there are a few groups you have never heard of. Each week, the Life section will feature a club you may or may not have known about.

From a diplomat from a nearby embassy to someone who carries his home on his back, people from all walks of life play chess in Dupont Circle.

Sophomore John Shindle walked past them weekly, often stopping to play with them. During one these encounters last year, he met fellow sophomore Stephen Weinstein.

“You meet interesting people,” said Weinstein, adding that he has seen Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer play and a man who says he won the Norwegian Chess Championship at age 18.

From Dupont Circle to the Hall on Virginia Avenue lounge, GW students are playing chess. Eventually, Weinstein introduced the idea of creating a chess team at GW, and the idea quickly took charge.

After receiving funds from the Student Association for boards and clocks, Weinstein and Shindle set up the GW Chess Club last year.

The meetings, which take place each Saturday afternoon on the third floor of the Marvin Center, regularly attract about 10 to 15 students and a few local residents.

It’s not all fun and games with the chess club. There are some serious chess players. Shindle said some of the players are “low-level masters.”

Weinstein and Shindle hope to develop the team to be able to compete in chess tournaments with other schools, but it won’t be easy. The club “faces an uphill battle,” Weinstein said, in order to condition a chess team ready for intercollegiate competition.

Local Howard University and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County both have “impressive” teams, Weinstein said. UMBC has won the Pan-American Chess Championships several times.

Competing against schools such as these will allow the GW Chess Club to “study moves and openings” and practice etiquette such as “no trash talking,” Shindle said.

In order to be at the same level as some of these schools, though, GW’s team needs more members.

“It’s discouraging how difficult it is to recruit new players,” Weinstein said. The chess club also does not have a coach.

The GW Chess Club plans to create a team of three to four members to send to tournaments, such as the Pan-American Championships that will be held in Miami next year.

However, these three to four members will have to earn their way to the top. The club first randomly ranks its members and then people challenge each other to increase their ranking.

The club meets on Saturdays in the Marvin Center room 309 at 2 p.m.

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