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Chess and the internet: it’s back to square one


June 5, 2018 by admin

Check mate: Ranges Chess Club secretary Paul Bearup says chess clubs are the best places to play. Picture: Ted KloszynskiIt’s been a particularly cold winter in Melbourne this year. Most nights, the mercury dips below 10 degrees.

But despite the bracing cold, every Thursday Richard Goldsmith makes his way to Croydon from Wonga Park to play at the local chess club.

Those of us partial to warmth would ask why he braves the cold when he could log onto a chess website and play with someone who lived in an equally cold climate.

There’s simply nothing like facing an opponent in real life, Goldsmith declares. “The human emotion of a successful win or of a stressful situation under time can only be thoroughly enjoyed when you’re face to face and get to see the wonder and enjoyment of your opponent winning or the look of an anxiety and pleasure when they’re crushed.”

And in winter, the promise of a heater is also very comforting. “We’re probably the best sport in town – we’ve got climate control,” he chuckles.

Goldsmith is the president of the Croydon Chess Club, which has about 40 members, both juniors and seniors. For hundreds of chess players across Melbourne’s south and south-east, chess is more than a game. But the advent of the internet and its effect on their beloved sport have the chess community polarised.

Goldsmith, 39, believes chess should be played face to face. “You don’t get that through a computer.”

He started playing chess in primary school. When he took the game home, much to his surprise, his father knew how to play. A rivalry was born.

“I could never beat dad as a child and an adolescent – not until I joined a chess club and someone showed me how to really wrestle this game and get hold of it. I beat my dad once and that was it.”

David Cordover, from the Waverley Chess Club, thinks the advent of the internet is a blessing. “If you come to a chess club, the challenges are that there are either people who are much better than you or much weaker than you. Finding somebody who’s at your own level to get a good game with is hard,” he says.

Cordover, 34, says playing chess online means finding the right opponent is easier. “You don’t have to go to a chess club and meet someone once a week to get your game. You can play on your phone, on the internet, and at work.”

Cordover, who started playing chess when he was about 10, won the Australian junior chess championship in 1996.

He says chess has now become a younger person’s game. “Most of the best players in the country are kids. I taught my kids how to play chess as soon as they were old enough to work it all out.

”It just gives a sense of structure to your thought process and the ability to analyse and think about your consequences and actions.

“Everyone should know how to ride a bike, everyone should be exposed to music at some point in their life, everyone should see art, everyone should hear another language spoken, everyone should play a game of chess in their life – it’s just one of those givens.”

Paul Bearup, the secretary of the Ranges Chess Club in Ferntree Gully, also learned chess as a young man. He agrees that learning chess has a plethora of benefits for children.

“It helps concentration, it helps them scholastically, it helps with problem solving,” he says. “It’s an excellent tool. That’s why schools often recognise its value and have the children coached.”

Unlike Cordover, Bearup believes chess clubs are more than relevant today. “You hear people say they’re tired of just playing on the internet and part of it is the enjoyment of across-the-table play.”


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