Checkmate near checkout aisle: Chess club finds home in grocery store

By Steven Martens Monday, February 04, 2008

CLINTON, Iowa — Most people who shop at Hy-Vee in Clinton on Tuesday and Thursday nights probably don’t even notice them there, tucked into a corner in the dining area, staring down at chess boards.

Members of the Reflections Chess Club are there every Tuesday and Thursday, and they’re always looking for new players of all ages.

The group took its name from its original meeting place, the Reflections coffee shop in Clinton, member Gene Deedon said. After the coffee shop closed, the group moved from location to location over the past several years before finally settling in at Hy-Vee about two years ago.

They have their own storage locker, full of equipment and books about chess strategy, and the members can get dinner or something to drink while they play.

“Hy-Vee turned out to be ideal,” Deedon said.

Deedon, 62, played chess in high school, but didn’t become serious about the game until about 15 years ago. He has become a student of the game, using computer chess games to study strategy and competing in tournaments in Chicago.

“I should be a lot better, now that I think about it,” he said.

At one Chicago tournament, Deedon was paired with a boy who was about 5 or 6 years old who played while holding a stuffed monkey and eating candy.

But the boy identified Deedon’s strategy and made the correct counter-moves, beating the man old enough to be his grandfather.

“It just blew my mind,” he said.

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