Between a Rook and a Hard Place

Players hone their problem-solving skills in Chess Club

Checkmate! Proclamations of victory can be heard from room 408 after school on Thursday afternoons. But putting your opponent’s king in checkmate, while simultaneously protecting your own royalty, is just the basic objective of the classic strategy game known as chess.

As students in Chess Club know, there’s so many more layers of the game to learn. Chess has been around for as long as 1,500 years, first appearing in sixth century India. Since then, the game as evolved and grown in popularity, being one of the most popular and recognizable strategy games in the world. Entire tournaments are devoted to this game, such as the most famous, the Chess World Cup. Kettle Run’s Chess Club is currently training the next victors.

Under the instruction of history teacher Michael Maddox and math teacher Kurt Mergen, new students are learning to master the game of chess.

Freshman Morgan Posselt was excited to learn the game.

“I have always been a fan of chess, but I have, previously, had no one to play against – until Chess Club,” Posselt said. “I didn’t even know how to really play before. I have greatly improved.”

Maddox is an enthusiastic player of the game, famous for destroying all who play against him.

“Mr. Mergen invited me to run Chess Club,” Maddox said. “I welcomed the opportunity to further my interest in chess.”

Maddox is known for winning nearly every chess game he plays.

Senior Rutger Scott reminisced how Maddox once beat him in just a few moves. Maddox attributes his greatness to years of playing the game.

“I have been playing since I was five,” Maddox said. “Also, many members of my family are avid chess players, so they challenge me.”

Maddox’s two nephews, Danny and Joshua Otten, are also in Chess Club.

“My mom taught me to play when I was younger, Joshua said. “Ever since then, I’ve been practicing. I joined [Chess Club because] I was looking for intellectual  stimulation. I gave it a try and kept coming back.”

Senior Josh Rigby is another talented chess player.

“My grandmother taught me to play,” Rigby said.

Rigby said he’s improved his skills by playing against “really good people, such as Mr. Maddox.”

Chess Club was formerly Strategy Game Club, but since most students came to play chess, organizers changed the name. Although Posselt enjoys playing other strategy games, she said chess is her favorite.

“Chess is superior. It’s not a luck-based game,” Posselt said. “It’s all based on knowledge of the game and strategy.”

Maddox agreed.

“Chess is definitely my favorite because it’s the best,” said Maddox. Chess players have advice for those looking to play and become good at the game. According to Maddox, the answer is simple.

“Practice,” Maddox said. “The more you play, the better you become.” Posselt added, “Play it with people you enjoy to be with.”