Scott County Chess Club expands membership, receives donation

The Scott County Chess Club announced a membership expansion and donation last week as interest grows in the community.

The club invites people of all ages and skill levels to participate in activities held at the Forest Public Library each month. In its first year, the club has received support from the community.

The Friends of the Library organization showed its support through donating funds to purchase five chess sets. The sets, which are tournament regulation, can be checked out and played only during library visits. Library patrons may also bring their own chess sets to participate in activities.

Beverly Rhodes, a member of the Friends of the Library Board of Directors, said she was happy to personally donate funds for one of the sets.

“The club realized this is a great opportunity to provide a special service and we were happy to support the club,” Rhodes said. “The Friends of the Library supports young people in learning the game of chess and we appreciate people who donate their time and support to help students.”

Rhodes said she has personally seen the benefits of students playing chess while leading the gifted programs in Forest schools.

“The gifted program had a chess team. It was one of our best things and students learned about thinking ahead and how to get along. It provides a great mental exercise,” Rhodes said.

The Scott County Chess Club, which started in 2018, initially focused on children ages seven to 12 but organizers have seen the need to expand to all ages and all skill levels.

Chris Allen Baker of Forest, founder and coordinator, said there is interest in the game for more people to get involved, whether they are learning the game for the first time or they already play.

“Since we started last spring, Adults have asked about the game and attend meetings. For the club to reach its maximum potential, it needs to include as many people as possible who want to participate,” Baker said. “It is never really too late to learn and become part of chess.”

The club meets each first Saturday at the Forest library from 9 until 11:30 a.m. and is open to everyone in Scott County and immediate areas.

“The club can go in whatever direction the members want and there is great potential,” Baker said. “We will seek opportunities for educational programs to help people learn the game or improve on existing skills. There is a state chess association and a national organization we can tap into as resources. A wide variety of activities are possible such as chess workshops and even hosting tournaments.”

Dianne McLaurin, assistant library branch manager, said the club’s mission is now all about providing chess opportunities for the whole community as one of the library’s many services.

“We are excited about the chess club and those who have already expressed interest and attended meetings,” McLaurin said. “We still support children playing the game as we originally started, but we feel that opening the club to everyone is the best direction. We appreciate the donation of the chess sets by the Friends of the Library all of the support of our patrons in this special opportunity.”

With the start of the new year, Baker said anyone looking for ways to improve their health on a variety of levels should consider chess.

For more information, a Facebook site has been established and requests can be sent to scottcountychessclub@yahoo.com.