New Moves for 2023 – UW-Whitewater Chess Club 2.0

Looking to make some new moves in 2023, the newly resurrected UW-Whitewater Chess Club might be just the thing. In the past, UW-Whitewater has fielded a student organization led Chess Club, and even sent a team to the National Colligate Championship Tournament. However, with the graduation of many of the key members in combination with Covid-19 the club experienced a period of dormancy. In 2021, an ambitious freshman Ludek Zatopek channeled his passion for chess and community to reboot the Chess Club here at UW-Whitewater. At the suggestion that starting a student organization on campus was not all that difficult due to the supportive environment facilitated by UW-Whitewater for students to pursue their own student organizations, Zatopek began rebuilding the UW-Whitewater Chess Club.

“It has always been my goal to grow and popularize this game on campus and get as many people as possible playing it again.” The Chess Club rebooted with only a few members, but with Zatopek’s leadership, has grown to roughly 20 members with many more engaged through the club’s Discord channel and Chess.com page. In Fall 2022, the club traveled to UW-Milwaukee for a match with their club as well. However, true to Zatopek’s ambitious nature, this is just the beginning, “I want more, I want absolutely everyone to know that this game is not just for nerds, that it can actually be a fun experience for everyone,” said Zatopek.

Many peoples first response to chess is a dismissive yawn, along with the thought that it is just an archaic and boring game for lame nerds, not for the cool crowd, and since you are obviously part of the cool kids, not a game for you . However, you would be mistaken. Plenty of the cool kids play chess, including Leonardo di Carpio, Madonna, Jessica Simpson, Kobe Bryant, The Terminator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robin Williams, John Lennon, and even the man who defined cool – Nicolas Cage.

Your next response might be, “okay, fine, so the cool kids play chess, but its still too complicated for me.” Well, you would be mistaken again. Ray Charles, played chess, and he was blind, what’s your excuse? – this is totally within your wheelhouse.

Finally, you might say, “even if the cool kids play, and I could learn, who am I going to play chess with?” Who even plays chess these days anyways?” Once again, you would be mistaken. See a pattern?

Plenty of people play chess, in fact according to chessbase.com it is estimated that there are approximately the same number of chess players as regular Facebook members. In the US there are more people that play chess than play golf and tennis combined with the bonus of being a heck of a lot cheaper than either of those sports, perfect for a broke college student. With the exploding popularity of free online chess websites such as Chess.com and Lichess.com its easier than ever to connect with people around the globe 24/7/365 for game. Additionally, unlike many things in life that come and go with time, chess has a staying power that’s unmatched. The earliest recorded reference to the game comes from a Persian manuscript from around 600 CE. Learning chess provides an intersection between cultures, languages, generations, and thwarts off even father time as something you can play for the rest of your life.

In a recent article from the United Nations, “Chess is a global game, which promotes fairness, inclusion and mutual respect and noting in this regard that it can contribute to an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding among peoples and nations.”

The UW-Whitewater Chess Club meetings are held in the UC on Thursdays at 6:30 pm and there is no need to be intimidated in stopping in to see what its all about. Zatopek stressed, “meetings are very informal and chill, we hang out, talk, play some chess, eat some pizza and are welcoming and friendly to all newcomers of any skill level.” The bottom line, chess is meant to be fun. However, fun can have practical applications as well as Zatopek explains, “Chess is not only a fun game in which you can meet people from all walks of life, but also teaches you about life, in thinking critically and accessing your position to find your next move, seeing patterns, and finding creative solutions to whatever predicament you may find yourself in.”

To find out more about the UW-Whitewater Chess Club, check out the Student Involvement Page on the UWW webpage or visit the UW-Whitewater Chess Club 2.0 Discord Channel.

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