CHECKMATE, FORT WAYNE!

An area chess club recently got a little help from a local high-status player.

The coach for Canterbury High School’s Chess team, Jim Dean, popped in at the monthly meeting of the Fort Wayne Chess Club to give the players a few pointers on gaming and strategy.

That’s according to Fort Wayne Chess Club member Eli Paulk, a long-time member who also serves as the club’s host and social media director. Dean joined the club for their regular monthly meeting, on February 27, at Purdue Fort Wayne (PFW), Paulk noted.

Paulk said Dean spent the entire hour-long meeting instructing members on basic and advanced strategy and just socializing with club members.

“He showed us everything from beginning stuff to more competitive game play,” he said. “It was a lot of studying of strategy, game openings, basically just teaching us how to get better.”

Regular chess club meeting sizes span from 10 to 15 players each month, according to Paulk, with players’ ages ranging from teenager to competitors in their 50s, he said.

Paulk said his club meets monthly on Saturdays at Kettler Hall on the campus of PFW. Meetings last from about 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., he noted.

Chess has enjoyed a revival of sorts in recent months, in part due to the popularity of the Netflix movie “The Queen’s Gambit.” The film follows a young girl in a 1950s orphanage who discovers she has an astonishing talent for chess. But while rising to stardom in the chess world, she also must grapple with her own troubles with addiction.

And the recent pandemic has played a part in chess’ rising popularity, too. Being quarantined during the COVID epidemic has led to more folks playing and studying chess, experts note.

In recent months, sales of chess sets have rocketed 87 percent, while sales of chess books have jumped more than 600 percent, according to data from the NPD Group, a marketing research company.

The website chess.com also has seen an influx of traffic, with roughly 66 percent more players playing games with each other on its site compared to before the pandemic.

Paulk said all that is good news for him and his chess-loving cohorts, who were “thrilled to host (Dean) at their recent meeting.”

Chess club officials added on their Facebook page: “Feel free to join our group so that we can grow our community and make this game more accessible for the people of Fort Wayne and the surrounding area.”

The club also recently began a fundraiser to generate cash to keep the club up and running, Paulk said. He added that the group always needs money to purchase equipment and to fund their monthly get togethers.

To find out more, or to donate to their cause, visit the group’s Facebook page. Just search Facebook for “Fort Wayne Chess Club.”

Paulk noted he and his fellow members were grateful to get a little help from such an experienced player. And despite how serious the game cansometimes appear, he said his club’s meetings are still about having a good time.

“It’s all fun, nothing too serious,” Paulk said

Michael Morrissey
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Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer