Good-natured bantering mixes with intense concentration as members of the Peninsula Chess Club move their pieces on the boards and try to anticipate what their opponents may be planning.

The club is in its early stages, having been formed in June 2003, but its members are making themselves known in the chess world. On Dec. 6 at the North Coast Invitational Tillamook County Chess Tournament, Peninsula Chess Club members swept all awards in the rated adult division in four rounds of mixed rated and unrated adult competitors.

At a large chessboard display, Steve Reed demonstrates "castling" to the Rookie Knights.Jerry Ayers is at the top of the Peninsula chess ladder. "For the time being anyway," Ayers says with a ready smile and twinkling eyes.

On Aug. 7, the Peninsula Chess Club hosted a simultaneous chess exhibition by Tony Sanchez, chess expert and coach of the Clatskanie Chess Club. Who won? Sanchez, who played 10 people simultaneously in the exhibition and who has brought some of the kids in his club to national championship level in less than two years.

"Checkmate! says Patrick Anderson, 12, as he plays Zack Mellinger, 9, at Hilltop School.How did this club get its start?

Looking to re-enter the world of chess after not playing for quite some time, Steve Reed, who moved to the Peninsula three years ago, began the process of starting a chess club. He spread the word about the would-be club through newspapers, radio stations and libraries.

Reed has enjoyed a lifetime of playing chess, learning to play chess before he started school, and he is eager to pass his knowledge of the game on to others. "My grandfather taught me to play," Reed says.

Ernesto Galvan, 11, makes his move playing chess at the Peninsula Learns after-school program.He stresses the importance of kids learning to play chess. "Reading comprehension and math skills increase with chess playing," Reed says. Along with Ayers, Reed teaches chess at the Peninsula Learns after-school program.

The kids, known as the Rookie Knights, sign up in the morning to go for that afternoon's chess instruction. They are given points for attending and for winning chess exercises.

By the end of December, the Rookie Knights hadn't yet played a full game of chess. They are learning the pieces and various moves. "I want them to know the game inside out," Reed says of the youngsters.

Donning a crown earned by scoring points at last week's club session, 12-year-old Nick Cobb listens to some tips from "Rookie Knights" adviser Steve Reed.Chess aficionados will go to great lengths to play the game. Club member Lee Davis makes the hour-and-a-half drive from Wheeler, Oregon to attend nearly all the Thursday meetings in Ilwaco.

Have you always wanted to learn how to play chess? Maybe you think it would take too long. Would you be willing to spend 20 minutes learning the basics of the game?

"I have taught people to play in 15 to 20 minutes," Reed says. "The game of chess is not dependent on luck, so it is possible for a lesser player to beat a grand master."

Robert O'Brien, 14, contemplates his next move against his opponent, Walker Sexton, 11.People can attend chess club meetings three times without joining. After that, Reed says, "I ask that they pay a membership of $20 a year, or $30 a year for an entire family."

In addition to the membership fee, there is a $1 per person charge for the meetings at the Peninsula Senior Center. There is no charge for the meetings held at the American Legion Hall in Ilwaco.

Have you ever noticed chess opponents shake hands with each other at the beginning of a game, and again at the end of the game? It's acknowledging your opponent as worthy.

The Peninsula Chess Club meets twice a week (except for holidays): at 6 p.m. Mondays at the Peninsula Senior Center, 21603 Pacific Highway in Ocean Park, Wash., and at 6 p.m. Thursdays at the American Legion Hall, 126 S.E. Lake St., Ilwaco, Wash. For information, call (360) 642-8956.

The number of possibilities in a game of chess is amazing. Check out a meeting of the Peninsula Chess Club and discover some of these possibilities for yourself. It just might be your game.


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