Dylan Gantt ’21
More people are playing chess than ever before. A game that dates back a millennium, chess is a contest of wits and complex strategy with an almost unlimited number of potential outcomes. Now, its popularity is on the rise, and among the members of the Mercersburg community it is a veritable trend. Perhaps it was The Queen’s Gambit, a limited series television show, that captured our hearts and sent us back to the eight-by-eight board. Or maybe it was the tournaments hosted by the Mercersburg Academy Chess Club in the recent weeks and months that began our journey back to the King’s Pawn Opening. Either way, chess as a part of our lives at Mercersburg is making a tremendous comeback, and the best thing to do is let yourself become entranced by the sport of pure intellect.
Although the exact date of the club’s creation is unknown, the Chess Club at Mercersburg has been around for quite a while. Regardless, the importance of chess on a global scale yields attraction for intellectually-minded students. When I was a junior, Kevin Lee ’20 was the Chess Club president, and we would always meet in Lenfest 302 for about an hour of chess on Sundays. Over the next couple of years, as my weekend workload increased and the number of hours available to play chess decreased, my attendance to Chess Club meets dropped significantly. Yet, I always knew the Chess Club was a valued part of our school community because it represents a game that crosses intellectual, cultural, and linguistic boundaries.
In an interview with current Chess Club president Josh Terris, he described what he enjoys most about the game of chess: “I love the beauty of the game, its strategy, and its variance. It’s a very flexible game, [and] there are some positions that are worlds aways from others.” Indeed, chess is a complex game, and that complexity is its attraction. For Chess Club members, though, it may also be the baked goods that draw them each Sunday afternoon to a Queen’s Gambit or a Caro-Kann defense.
Words need not be spoken, but at Chess Club meetings, there is certainly an air of camaraderie that goes around. Josh elaborated, “So far, I’ve loved interacting with people about chess. There are some pretty good [players] at this school, and I’m starting to get a little scared.” As a follow up, Josh looked to the future; he pointed out, “I think the [Chess] Club just needs more time to grow as well as [gain] a more loyal base…I think we need to solidify a little more before we branch out.”
Certainly, the Mercersburg Academy Chess Club is growing, and no student need miss out. Whether you are a phenom or someone who couldn’t name the horse-shaped piece, try to visit the Chess Club – perhaps just to watch, or even better to play.