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Posted by ccmcacollister


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Subject: The Social Stigma of Playing Chess ...?!?

I was talking to someone today, and thought maybe it makes a thread topic. That is ... how is the Chess activity in your area? Do you have a club? Have tourneys? Staying active? Let me know how the Chess activity is for you ...

Have you been playing any tournaments or clubbing around at all this year? I ENVY players in the Netherlands much, as I hear they have a CLUB in nearly every good sized city there. And even play intra-club matches for them! How great. A Chess Mecca it seems.

[Where I live; I had thought things were pretty dead around here, but on another site i saw a Nebraska player saying he played in a tourney just in the last couple or few months. Maybe there IS more going on that I knew of. Seems I must renew the old USCF membership and see what is what, sometime here. Unless maybe someone can tell me ... what is going on around Here?]

I've GOT to find a club at least ... or a coffeehouse or such where people are meeting to play ... er that they have not been kicked out of yet. THAT seems to be a problem here. EG, often some of the players don't want to pay for coffee or such from a business "site" ... or got too rowdy, or took up too many tables, etc.
One time at a convenience store ... I had to buy and eat FOUR microwave dinners,
so they would let us stay and play ... while eating. :)

Usually Donut shops are pretty cool, but Winchells went out of nighttime business, where we would play after the Church-club hours, where we played on West Center Street in Omaha. Till the Key man left the door unlocked once too often and got booted. Sigh.

A funny one ... we even managed to get kicked out of a nighttime coffeeshop that enjoys catering to gay patrons just fine. But we got sac'd for taking too many tables :(
Or maybe for not being gay?! Anyway ... it seems Chessplayers are pretty much on the bottom of the social ladder ~!! haha

Bringing up the Question: DO YOU face THE STIGMA of being a Chessplayer ?! Or is it totally cool where you are? How do you DEAL with it, if you find you and your friends are being deprived of a respected place in society?


Well hope to find something.

Posted by chessnovice


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I haven't met anyone locally that plays, but I also haven't visited the downtown area very much. I'm sure that if I rolled out my chess board and set up open opposition, I'd get many takers.

I found that the nerdy stigma of chess was null by the time I was in college, and people were able to acknowledge that they wish they knew how to play, themselves.

Posted by pgroenborg


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Mecca in decline

I think the culture in Europe for playing in clubs has been very strong historically. I live in Denmark and here maybe ten 15 yrs back there were 10.000 players out of a pop. of 5 mill. Now there is about half of that, less than 5.000 clubbers.

The town I'm in has a pop. of about 150.000 and there are many clubs here to choose from, actually it's sort of the capital of chess in Denmark. Of course the real one is Copenhagen.

So the talk now is how to turn around the decline in members of the union that organises the clubs (you are automatically a member of the union when you join a registered club).

Many clubs are closing down these years, it's sad really.
But chess in clubs is still strong in Denmark and like you said about Holland, there is a great deal going on in the clubs and between them: Team chess (National and regional) and other interclub tourneys.
A few years back my club Skakklubben af 1968 ( had 7 teams of 8 players, this season we had only 4.

We play in a part of the university, where we rent the room, really cool, especially since for the postanalysis etc. we are able to choose from an adjacent room - or the bar downstairs!

Posted by cascadejames


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Chess in Portland

Craig, Some US cities are not so bad. Portland Oregon has a small but active chess club with a
very long history. See
There are small tournaments and a weekly casual chess night. I am a member, but have not been
active. Seattle has a club, and I think most larger cities in the Pacific NW have a club of some

Chuckling, my grandfather would have said that if you and your friends are being thrown out of
coffee houses you either need to get classier friends or spend your time in classier places. :-) I
doubt if it is a problem directly related to chess. Non-chess players that I know tend to have the
misconception that chess players are all intellectual scholars. But I can see a business owner
being peeved if your friends are discouraging paying customers.

Posted by ionadowman


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In this idyllic...

... South Sea archipelago of New Zealand, in particular, the City of Christchurch, pop. circa 300,000 there are, I think, 2 clubs: The Christchurch C.C. and the Canterbury C.C. I know where one of them is located, having visited there a two or three times in 1988; the other I don't know about.
But the Christchurch Square has a giant chessboard (the king stands maybe 3 foot high - about 0.9 metre) which gets frequent use. I used to hang out there quite a bit in 1989-90, and occasionally since.
Here's a game from the heady days of playing in the sunshine with a giant chess set:
White: N.N. Black: Self (c.1992; Wilkes-Barre)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc4
5.Bxf7+ Ke7 6.Bb3 Rf8 7.0-0 h6 8.Nf3 d6
9.d3?! (9.h3!) 9...Bg4 10.Be3 Nd4 11.Bxd4 Bxd4 12.c3 Bb6
13.Nbd2 Qd7 14.Qc2 Rae8 15.h3? (This really is a hard luck pawn!)
15...Bxh3 16.gxh3 Qxh3
17.Nh2 Ng4 18.Nxg4 Qxg4+ 19.Kh1 Qh3+ 20.Kg1 Rf5
21.Qd1 Qg3+ 22.Kh1 Rh4#.
Not exactly Holland or Denmark, though...
New Zealand has a few IMs but only one GM - and he had to move to England to get the necessary experience.

Posted by wschmidt


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The Denver area has a few active clubs...

Just this year I started going to the regular Tuesday night sessions of the Denver Chess Club. Each month starts a new rated tournament - four or five 90 minute games over the course of the month. 20-30 folks show up on any given night.
Craig, your coffeehouse memories are very similar to mine from several years ago in St. Louis. A group of about 6-8 of us his various Wendy's, donut shops, libraries, etc. one night a week until we were banned and had to move on. It didn't help that one of our crew was the most anti-authoritarian, anti-social crackpot in mid-America. I was at his house one night to play chess and he ended the evening holding a machete to my throat demanding that I acknowledge him as my guru. Needless to say, our relationship ended at that point. I know he's still around though, hasn't been institutionalized yet.


Posted by ccmcacollister


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haha ...

Good stuff above. Good advice cj :)

WS ... I'm still your Guru, right! yahahahaha ....
Sorry couldnt resist. That is significantly worse that being Kinged in the head~!

Maybe I should be living in Denmark !? I recently heard it called the best place on earth to live.

Or NZ? Sounds good with the big set.

Posted by kansaspatzer


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In Kansas City, there are two clubs. One is an informal one in a restaurant the nightlife district. The mayor of Kansas City actually shows up and plays there, and it's the home club of an IM. The one I go too more often is an actual brick and mortar club with it's own building, but it's fallen victim to chess politics because the owner accused a few leading players of cheating about a year ago, and most of its population has fallen.

Omaha has a really active chess scene, and I am actually considering moving up there after I graduate for that reason. I like to go there for tournaments.

In the college town where I am, there's a downtown club that's really informal. About a year ago, one of the star basketball players from the college came and played with us. He's in the NBA now though. Stuff like that really dispels the "nerd" stereotype.

Posted by steverand67


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Kansas City Missouri...

3 clubs actually if you count the one in Independence (about a 30 minute drive) from midtown Kansas City. I think that one has a couple IM's too...but I don't know much about since I've never been there.

Regarding the social stigma of playing chess I can only speak from my own experience in the US, but I think that the "nerd" stereotype kansaspatzer mentioned is annoyingly prevalent. I've met a lot of people who fit that stereotype, but I've also met a lot of people who don't.

I think chess is so stereotyped in the US because of the lack of national attention it gets. Relatively marginalized quasi-sports like bowling, poker, pool (and even the absurdity that is NASCAR) appear on national television frequently, but to my knowledge chess is limited to a 1/4 page column in the sunday edition of the New York Times.

To make chess more popular in the US, the nation probably needs another iconic figure like RJF. Nakamura and other americans are great chess players, but they've yet to become national heroes like Fischer was (and it's hard to see how they'll become such heroes without another "Cold War-esque" event).

Perhaps televising chess games with lots of scantily-clad cheerleaders celebrating after strong moves would attract more attention? :-)

Posted by buddie


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