Organizing a Chess Club: the Basic Buildi...

Organizing a Chess Club: the Basic Building Blocks
by David Powers

Lately, educators have witnessed the ability of chess to improve a child's critical thinking skills. The clamor for chess clubs has increased considerably, along with one major concern: how can you organize a club that both educates and amuses?

The six essential foundation blocks for building a chess club are: (1) Organizing Team (2) Team of Players (3) Venue (4) Chess Sets and Clocks (5) Skills Building Workshops and (6) Enthusiasm.

The founding body needs to be composed of systematic and patient individuals who can lead the club. The rules of the club should be based on the principles of fairness and consistency. Of chief importance should be the playing team's development.

The next component of the club: the youthful players. A ploy that always works is to increase membership by giving existing players solid recognition and enough publicity about their matches. Don't just advertise the purpose of the club; emphasize the benefits too! There is constant need for donations of time and equipment from parents, and the organizing team should be unhesitant to ask for them. Try this call to action, to kick off your campaign: "Be one of us. Improve your logical prowess. Gain a friend. Apply for membership!"

The value of designating the club's headquarters is something the founders should not overlook. Come to think of it, all clubs need a place to meet. Luckily, your options are myriad. Choose from the following: a club member's roomy home, an empty classroom, a business or local community centre downtown, or some free office space volunteered by parents. You needn't spend extra to make the site functional. A well-lit space that houses tables and chairs that can seat all members comfortably should be more than enough.

Your list of game equipment need not be lengthy. The bare necessities are chess boards, complete chess pieces and clocks. Nothing can be worse than having the members stand and wait for their turn while a chess game is going on. This could take ages! So, make sure that the club arranges the pieces in advance. Also, timed chess tournaments help maintain the game by the hour. It is not essential to have exotic chess equipment; the simple ones that serve their purpose should suffice.

Training is the fifth element. You need to spread the word about chess. Essential as the learning is, the chess club should also provide entertainment to the young ones. Intense chess trainings and matches could very well discourage members from appreciating the game. Find the sweet spot between hard work and play. Lesson: Success is earned and yet, all work and no play never made Jack a tad sharper!

Lastly, what's a chess club without enthusiasm? To reach a destination, one has to identify targets for the players as well as for the organizer. A pragmatic target such as joining a local tournament on a future date motivates the players to set personal goals.

Realistically, organizing a chess club has its own set of challenges. The process requires time and plenty of patience to follow through. However, it's the thought of succeeding that actually makes the time spent and energy exerted very much worthwhile.