BY PAUL BICKLEY
While many people know the rules of chess and how each piece moves, far fewer actually know how to play the game. Bloomington Indiana Scholastic Chess Club (BISCC) is working to change that by hosting training sessions and competitive events for young chess enthusiasts.
“I want to increase awareness of chess and make it more available to the community,” says Cristian Medina, president of BISCC. “Chess sharpens kids’ mental skills, their focus, and planning.”
In fact, Medina, an Indiana University doctoral geology student, feels chess enhances all of society. “Adults who play chess think through problems. They’re active leaders and citizens,” he says. “And community chess brings people together—people of different races, ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
To make chess more available in the community, BISCC donated boards and chess pieces to Boxcar Books and Community Center, Function Brewing, Hopscotch Coffee, and Juannita’s Restaurant, and a wooden chess table to Monroe County Public Library (MCPL).
The group also sets up games of simultaneous chess at Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market and Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market. In simultaneous chess, a skilled player plays several opponents at once by making one move at each board before moving on to the next.
Instructors John Illg, 28, and Jimmy Brown, 34, run most of the club programs. While one projects game situations onto a screen in the teaching room, discussing strategies and moves, the other plays against kids in the game room, asking why they’ve made certain moves and explaining his own. Later, groups huddle around a demonstration board as one of the instructors reviews the day’s situations. The instructors also assign situations for the kids to study and practice between meetings, and post additional challenges on the club’s website.
Founded in 2008, BISCC operates a K-12 chapter at MCPL and a chapter for University Elementary School students. The MCPL chapter meets every other Sunday during the academic year and once a month during the summer. Dues are $120 per year, $70 per semester, or $10 per meeting, and pay for game materials, teachers, and teaching materials.
For more information, visit biscc.org.