Instructor passes on love for chess

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Bob Brown started playing chess in second grade.

He and his brother somehow found or acquired a chess set and ended up teaching each other how to play. Brown said his parents never knew how to play; it was just something he and his brother figured out together.

“I seemed to have a knack for it,” Brown said. “I enjoyed it.”

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Brown said he kept playing throughout his childhood because, well, he kept winning matches. The creativity of the game was a plus, too, he said. Brown said life caught up with him after high school, and his chessboard garnered dust for many years until one day, he remembered how much he enjoyed it.

“Spending time with the person I’m playing with, I enjoy that more than the competitions,” Brown said.

So, Brown got back to the chessboard again.

Brown entered tournaments, and eventually met Frank Walls, one of the founders and leaders of the Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Chess Club.

Eventually, Brown left Campbellsville to move to Winchester to be closer to his grandchildren. He is currently a quality engineer for Lockheed Martin and now works alongside Walls as an instructor with the WCCPR Chess Club.

“I was trying to find ways to connect with the community and be a part of the community and give back to the community,” Brown said.

Brown will also teach during the club’s upcoming chess camp. The club is hosting a free summer chess camp from 10-11:30 a.m. on the first four Saturdays in August at the Clark County Public Library.

The camp will teach new players — first through sixth graders — how to play the classic game of chess. Other players — beyond beginner — are welcome to help or enjoy playing chess with other players, Brown said.

“It’s just to raise awareness of the game and raise awareness of the club,” Brown said.

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The chess club regularly meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month at the College Park Gym. The club will not meet on Labor Day.

Also starting in September, Brown said, the club will add another meeting date: the third Monday of each month.

The club’s free sessions include friendly chess matches via quads whenever possible, instruction, discussions and socializing. It also has tournaments as announced.

This group is for the young and old alike, Brown said. If players used to play chess or play online, he said the club is a good, friendly group to get to know.

Also, if someone doesn’t know how to play and would like to learn, the club would be an excellent place to learn, Brown said.

“We teach a lot of kids how to play chess,” Brown said.

Chess is easy to learn, he said; though, it’s hard to master. Some of the children often surprise Brown with their skills, though. Brown said he hopes students gain the same abilities he did because of chess such as concentration, determination and perseverance.

“Every move is important,” Brown said of the game. “If you give up, and don’t be your best, you’re gonna lose. Also, just because you lose a piece or you are getting in a bad position, you don’t give up, so it teaches you determination.”

Over the years, Brown said the game hasn’t changed much besides a few variations of the game such as Bughouse chess, a chess variant played on two chessboards by four players in teams of two. Brown said many players are also playing the game online. And while that’s undoubtedly a useful tool to learn and study more about the game, there’s something more memorable and gratifying about sitting down at the board, chatting with the opponent across from you and physically taking their piece off the board when proclaiming, “checkmate!”

That act is something Brown said he and the club try to keep alive.

Brown said he recalls those joyful memories of his childhood playing chess while making new memories with his 5-year-old grandson, whom Brown is currently teaching how to play chess.

“He’s not completely got the concept yet,” Brown said. “He pretty much takes every piece off the board. But I’m having a great time with that.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0015.

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