CHECKMAT, FORT WAYNE! – News from Waynedale

A local chess club recently received some help from a top local player.

Canterbury High School Chess Coach Jim Dean came to the Fort Wayne Chess Club monthly reunion to give players some advice on the game and strategy.

That’s according to longtime Fort Wayne Chess Club member Eli Paulk who is also the club’s host and director of social media. Dean joined the club for their regular monthly reunion on February 27 at Purdue Fort Wayne (PFW), Paulk noted.

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

“He showed us everything from the beginnings to a more competitive game,” he said. “It was a lot of studying strategy, playing openings, basically teaching us how to improve.”

The size of regular chess club meetings ranges from 10 to 15 players each month, according to Paulk, with the ages of players ranging from teenagers to competitors in their 50s, he said.

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

Chess has seen a kind of revival 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 that she has an amazing talent for chess. But while achieving fame in the chess world, she also has to deal with her own addiction issues.

And the recent pandemic has also played a role in the growing popularity of chess. Quarantine during the COVID epidemic has led more and more people to play and study chess, experts note.

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

The website has also seen an influx of traffic, with around 66% more players playing among themselves on its site compared to before the pandemic.

Paulk said all of this was good news for him and his chess-loving cohorts, who were “delighted to welcome (Dean) to their recent reunion.”

Chess club officials added on their Facebook page: “Please join our group so that we can grow our community and make this game more accessible to people in and around Fort Wayne.”

The club also recently launched a fundraiser to generate cash to keep the club up and running, Paulk said. He added that the group still needs money to buy equipment and to fund their monthly meetings.

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

Paulk noted that he and his colleagues were grateful to get a little help from such a seasoned player. And despite the seriousness of the game, he said his club meetings are always about having a good time.

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

Michael morrissey
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