Here's your chance to play in your first chess tournament

Columnist Steve Lange plays at the Rochester Chess Club. And laughs at chess memes. He wants you to as well.

Oddchester - Steve Lange column sig
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You’ve probably watched – or at least heard of – “The Queen’s Gambit,” the "coming-of-age, 1960s period drama centered around chess tournaments."

And now you can experience the thrill of the real thing.

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Though probably without the "coming of age" part. And with fewer bell-bottom jeans and mini skirts.

On July 9-10, the Rochester Chess Club will be holding the 2022 Rochester Chess Open at the Mayo Civic Center.

While the two-day tournament will draw some of the best players from across the Midwest competing in various sections, we will also be holding a one-day Novice Section on Saturday, July 9.


So now there's no excuse. If you know how to play chess, and if you've ever wanted to play in a real chess tournament, you can.

At the one-day Novice Tournament, you will play four games on Saturday. We will provide chess sets, chess clocks, a basic intro to get you started and help along the way.

I say "we," above, because full disclosure/nerd alert: I am an active member of the Rochester Chess Club.

If you stop down most Tuesday nights at Mayo’s Harwick Building, you’ll find – and consider this a sick holla invite to the new-to-town party people – two dozen or so members of the Rochester Chess Club.

The club’s weekly meetings consist of quick tournaments or discussions of best opening moves or endgames. Everyone is welcome, from novices to National Masters (and we have some of each). From ages 7 to 97. A lot of clubs throw out numbers like that. We actually have 7-year-olds.

Edwin Albrecht, who still plays regularly, is 97.

Six years go, son Henry, then 14, became obsessed with chess, and took me along for the ride. We played almost every day. We read books on chess openings. We watched ChessTV, in which PROFESSIONAL ANNOUNCERS ANNOUNCE CHESS GAMES IN REAL TIME.

And we joined the Rochester Chess Club.


Henry, after an outstanding high school chess career, moved away for college. But I have stuck with the chess club.

And it's not just Tuesday nights.

Here's something: I'm also a member of ChessGoals, an online group coached by National Master Matt Jensen, arguably the city's best chess player. ChessGoals, in addition to an online coaching platform, also offers online hangouts for chess players to post things like chess memes.

Here's one funny example for everyone to appreciate: In one meme, Matt posts a picture of a person unable to escape from behind the bars of a jail. Matt has Photoshopped the picture, though, so the bars of the jail are now pawns. And that person has a bishop chess piece instead of a head and they are yelling "Let me out!"

discord chess2.jpg

And now imagine that underneath the photo, Matt has written the following meme caption: "The light squared bishop is typically the worst minor piece for black in the French defense. In the advance variation it gets trapped behind the pawns for a while. For people who don't play the Rubinstein variation, they have a bad light squared bishop in a lot of lines."

We laughed and laughed at that one.


This Novice Section is your chance. Your chance to check "play in a live chess tournament" off your bucket list. Your chance to spend a few hours on a Saturday meeting people in the same chess boat as you. Your chance, maybe, to realize you want to join the Rochester Chess Club.


Maybe even your chance to join ChessGoals and laugh and laugh at our chess memes. See above.

You are never too old to start playing chess.

Edwin, the Rochester Chess Club member I mentioned above, played in his first tournament in 2011. He was 86 years old.

Register now at (click on the 'Calendar' drop down menu). For info, contact Dennis Mays ( or 507-254-6809).

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

Opinion by Steve Lange
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