Featherston Community Centre will once again be home to castling, closed Sicilians and checkmate when the local chess club starts again this school term.
Renee Adie, the mum of a keen 12-year-old chess player, was inspired to form the club last October after witnessing the popularity of an intermediate schools competition in Masterton Intermediate School’s [MIS] hall.
“The whole hall was full of schools competing with each other. It was just amazing to see and to see how much engagement there was,” she said.
“We don’t have anything like that and not everyone’s athletic. I just wanted something for those kids that weren’t in that area to have something to do after school.”
Adie organised two club afternoons before Christmas, which were well attended, particularly the inaugural session.
“Our first meeting I was surprised we had about 22 players and we had all six chess games in play. We actually had a retired competitor come in and play. My son got to play against the mayor [Martin Connelly]. We’ve had players as young as seven all the way up to elderly age – it’s open to anyone.”
Adie’s enthusiasm for a Featherston-based club has attracted the support of local businesses and organisations.
“When I first posted [on Facebook] about the club, Martin [Connelly] the mayor reached out and sponsored chess boards and a couple of chess books for us, which was huge.”
Sponsorship has helped cover the hire fee for the club’s room at the community centre on Wakefield Street, with Adie’s mum’s dog grooming business, Mini K9 Grooming, and local organisation Stitch4Kids both making contributions to meet costs.
This year, the club will be able to run more frequently, thanks to funding from the Tindall Foundation to the community centre to help support after-school activities.
“Renee completely came up with the idea [of the chess club] and was running it monthly. She was going around the community trying to get funders to pay for the room,” community centre manager Joanna Baldwin said. “She was determined to support the community centre, which is great.
“But we were working on getting funding for kids’ after-school activities anyway. So we are working with Renee and she is going to run the chess club and the funding covers the cost of room hire, as well as providing snacks, tea and coffee and things like that.”
No previous experience in chess is necessary, Adie said, as experienced players are more than happy to help newcomers.
“It’s amazing how [young and old] can sit together – age isn’t an issue, they just sit there and go, ‘oh, do you know about this move and that move’, and someone else will say, ‘did you know you had that person in check?’”
Adie has ambitions for the club if it continues to be supported by local players.
“I do eventually want to be able to offer an actual tournament – that’d be once we grow. Even if it’s just a little one for the younger ones, then you can be actually more competitive if you want to.”
For more information, visit Featherston Chess Club on Facebook.