Chess club hosts tournament


The history of chess spans over 1,500 years with many speculating that the game originated in India. From there the game has progressed to a competitive sport and even dancers dressed as pieces in Katy Perry’s halftime show at this year’s super bowl; and this time-standing mind game still persists at SDSU thanks to the chess club.

Recently, the chess club hosted its Jackrabbit Open on Saturday, Feb. 7, featuring a tournament at the K-12 level and at the collegiate and adult level.

Mark Derby, a member of South Dakota Chess Association (SDCA) and the secretary treasurer of the SDCA volunteer board attended the tournament and has high hopes for the SDSU chess club.

“SDSU is the most active club in South Dakota and it looks like it’s going to be active for quite some time,” Derby said. Currently, SDSU has one of the most active chess clubs in the state, according to Derby. Other schools like South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Black Hills State University, University of South Dakota and more have chess clubs as well.

Four K-12 schools were in attendance for the tournament in the younger levels including Pierre Indian Learning Center, New Life Fellowship Baptist, Robert Frost and Rosa Parks. A total of 53 people were involved in the tournament.

There were 22 people in attendance for the open section of the tournament for adults. Of the 22, six were SDSU students and two were SDSU professors.

Ian Morton, ranked fourth in the state, took the trophy with a 4.0. Second was a four-way tie between James Lenz, Josiah Jorenby, Terry Likens and Kody Jenson all at three points each.

Jorenby, a freshman journalism major who tied for second and is an active member in the club, put a lot of work into organizing the tournament, Derby said.

“I really hope that Josiah and whoever else is in the leadership there [at SDSU] can continue with it,” Derby said.

Bruce Brandt, a professor of English and the club’s advisor, believed the tournament to be a good way to promote the game to all levels, “especially with younger people. We’d like to get them excited about chess.”

Brandt himself fell in love with chess as a boy and played in school.

“I’ve just always enjoyed it,” Brandt said. “I’ve just found a kind of beauty in the game. It’s not the kind of game where you just learn the rules and then play. You keep learning and learning.”

Derby also finds fascination in the game.

“Each game has a life of its own pretty quickly,” Derby said. “Sooner or later it becomes a game you’ve never played before.”

As a competitive game, Derby considers chess as a sport.

“There’s someone else that quoted chess as the gymnasium for the mind,” Derby said. “It’s like wrestling, only just with ideas. You do exercises to stretch out your brain with tactics before the tournament and it’s a competitive game.”

Gini Liu, a sophomore pharmacy major who was elected as the club’s next president, realizes the competitiveness of chess.

“You always have to be on your A-game,” Liu said. “You can’t win all of them… I’ve just learned that it’s just for fun and you’re getting better by playing [other members].”

As a club the members meet every Thursday evening at 7 p.m. upstairs in the Union and anyone who is interested in joining may attend the meetings. While there members play chess and drink coffee. “It’s pretty chill,” Liu said.

“I would encourage anyone to join chess club,” Liu said. “I mean, you can be good, you can suck or you can be amazing. You could not even know what’s going on, but it’s just a great stress reliever. Just come and play chess and leave whenever you want to.”