International Chess Day celebrated by Broken Hill Library’s Chess Club

Broken Hill City Library’s Chess Club joined millions of chess players worldwide to celebrate International Chess Day on Wednesday July, 20.

Arkady Dvorkovich, President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), said the aim of this year’s campaign was to teach someone who hadn’t played chess before how to play, and he said learning chess has beneficial effects at any age, and even has the potential to change a person’s life.

The cross-generational benefits of chess were evident when young and old gathered at the library to play chess on Wednesday.

“The Chess Club is open to all ages. We want people to come and feel safe to learn a new skill,” said Librarian, Deaken Treloar.

There was at least a fifty-year age gap between the youngest and oldest chess players at the local club.

“The Chess Club at the library is for people to gather around chess, enjoy other people’s company, and explore a new challenge,” Mr Treloar said.

The Library’s Chess Club couldn’t meet during the COVID-19 pandemic because of restrictions and restarted six weeks ago and meets between 4pm and 6pm.

A player can complete between one and four games during that time, with each game taking on average between 15 and 20 minutes.

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“We are happy to teach you if you need assistance, but the idea is to play off each other’s chess traits,” Mr Treloar said.

The other charming part of the Library’s Chess Club, apart from playing chess, was getting to know your opponent.

One player, Martin, learned chess from his father, both of his parents were blind and they used a special chess set with markings on each piece.

His father knew where the pieces were placed on the board and although blind he was a difficult player to beat.

He taught Martin the different moves and the basics of the game.

Chess wasn’t the only game played in their household, Martin’s mother used a braille Scrabble board and was almost unbeatable at the game.

Peter, another Chess Club player at the library on Wednesday, taught himself how to play chess.

“From my youth, I played solo by following the games in the Adelaide newspaper,” Peter said.

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Long before the age of the internet, the Adelaide newspaper would report on famous matches with players from places like Russia and Germany.

One day the newspaper advertised a chess set next to the match reports, Peter explained.

“I sent away for an advertised chess set, but it didn’t arrive, so I wrote to the supplier, and they sent me a second set. I used this to set up games I was following in the newspaper,” he said.

Chess is now a social game for Peter.

Library staff are exploring whether there are local school chess clubs that might like to have friendly matches with the library’s Chess Club in the future.

Since 1966, chess fans around the world have celebrated playing chess on International Chess Day on July 20.

This date was chosen by the International Chess Federation and was recognised in 2019 when the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution recognising the day.

Details about the Library’s Chess Club are available on 08 8080 3460.

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Fun chess facts:

The number of different chess game possibilities is greater than all the estimated atoms in the universe, according to mathematician Claude Shannon.

The first chess game played in space was in June 1970 by the crew of Soyez-9 against their ground control.

First-year chess players are called ‘rookies’, a name derived from the last pawns to move ‘rooks’.

Some strong chess players play blindfolded, which requires the ability to see the board and all its pieces in their minds.

Alan Turing created the first computer program for playing Chess in 1951.

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