“Traditionally, Open Chess has been a small group of folks that come out every week and play together,” says Community Engagement Librarian Ian Gosse, who coordinates the weekly Monday evening meetup.
But over the summer, attendance rocketed as more and more enthusiasts of all ages converged on the Main Library.
Students from Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Chess Club joined in. And so did Illinois Chess Vets, a nonprofit that teaches and organizes chess games for disabled veterans and young people.
With the surge in players and coaches, they were able to begin holding free tournaments at the library sanctioned by the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF).
‘Chess is my passion’
One of the youngest players, Scott, is a first-grader at Holmes Elementary and a serious competitor. In September, USCF gave him the highest rating for a 6-year-old nationwide.
“For me, chess is my passion,” says his dad, Ren Vincent Escalera, who started teaching his son when Scott was just 18 months old. “I took chances that Scott might also love the game and, hopefully, share the same passion.”
For all ages: Open Chess, Monday evenings
But you don’t have to be an award-winning player to attend Open Chess. It’s open to all ages and skill levels. New players are welcome.
Every Monday night there is open chess play from 6 pm to 8:30 pm in the Main Library Lobby Community Engagement Space. No advance registration is needed.
Those who wish to play in a rated USCF Tournament must register in advance. Learn more and follow the instructions to register on the selected date on the library’s calendar.
For kids: Chess Champs Club, Tuesday afternoons
And on most Tuesday afternoons, kids ages 5-13 can join Chess Champs Club, a workshop and open play chess club led by instructor Luis Tubens from 4:45 to 6:30 pm in the Main Library Storytime Room. See all dates on the library’s calendar.