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Checkmate: Simcoe County Chess Club caters to players of all levels

Vaseline 2 months ago

“Chess is a wonderful sport where people can use their creative skills to come up with great solutions to problems,” says co-founder

The game of chess is about capturing your opponent’s king, but for two local chess enthusiasts it was about much more than that.

Pekka Reinio and Dave Trotter have loved the game of chess for years, both for the skills and strategy it can require, and for the social aspect it can create. But finding a place where they could regularly play against other adults was often a bigger challenge than what they encountered on the board.

After discussing the lack of opportunities to play against other adults, the pair decided to take it upon themselves and co-founded the Simcoe County Chess Club, a free Barrie-based group that meets on the first and third Wednesday of every month at the Barrie. The Painswick branch of the public library on Dean Avenue.

“It was really just two guys who liked chess,” said Trotter, who started playing about eight years ago.

Although he played occasionally as a child, Trotter only became truly intrigued after meeting his wife and trying to bond with her father.

‘He’s from Ukraine and they play a lot of chess there. He just handed it to me, over and over again, and hit me and hit me. I (thought) it was so much fun and I wanted to get better,” Trotter said.

Reinio, who has been playing occasionally for twenty years, explains BarrieToday he was initially inspired by his students and saw how engaged and enthusiastic they were about the game.

“We realized that there were adults who were also interested in playing and that there weren’t really places in our area where adults could play,” he said, adding that the club was built from their own desire to have a place where they could come together with other players. local players.

Anyone can attend the bimonthly meetings, Reinio emphasizes. He adds that the club – which is about to celebrate its first anniversary – has continued to grow since its founding in 2023.

“There seems to be quite a bit of interest,” he said, adding that their mailing list currently includes just over 120 people who have come to play in the past year. “We have a good core of people playing.”

As for what makes the game of chess so exciting, Reinio believes the appeal is the combination of competitiveness and creativity.

“It’s exciting to compete against an opponent and win,” he said. “Chess is a wonderful sport where people can use their creative skills to come up with great solutions to problems… and checkmate their opponents. It is very satisfying to win at chess. It’s just a beautiful game.”

It can also be slow or fast, whatever the players want.

“We have personal games where most people play a slower game. Others like to play faster: a blitz game. You have people there with clocks and they play five-minute games,” Reinio said. “There is a wide range of playing styles and playing times.”

“Chess is finding pleasure in the painful grind of the beat,” Trotter said. “You lose all the time and you win all the time. There are variations of the game for everyone. As simple as it seems, the game of chess can change drastically depending on who you play and the amount of time you play.

The club also offers online games, which they say have become a popular option as not everyone can get out in person on a regular basis.

The pair encourage anyone interested in chess to come and check out the club and give it a try.

“I hope they come out and give it a try,” Reinio said. “We have a wide range of players. We have people who are absolute beginners who come to learn how to play, and we have people who are very experienced.

“I think we have a pair that is ranked as National Canadian Masters. There are many opportunities to play at different levels,” he added. “There is also a social component. It’s just great to be able to play across the board with someone.”

Trotter credits the Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit for helping remove some of the stigma that often surrounded the game.

“People often thought that chess was only for the ‘nerdy person’… but chess is great. It’s almost a sport,” he said. “I always loved chess as a child, but I just gave up. When you grow up, you’re going to play baseball or hockey (because) that’s what you do… but chess is for everyone.

“We do a little lesson at the beginning and we have a lot of players who want nothing more than to just help you in a positive (and) growing way. It is a journey without end,” Trotter added.

As the club prepares to celebrate its one-year anniversary, Trotter said BarrieToday they have their sights set on continuing to promote the game across the region, and even hope to expand the club to include a day for under-16s to meet.

“The past year just flew by. We started with just one day a month and there is so much love for chess that we are trying to think of ways to add more days,” he said. “We are growing. It was a blink of an eye.”

Anyone who wants more information can email Reinio at (email protected).