At chess tournament, it’s all black or white
Posted by The Republican Newsroom
February 17, 2008 19:40PM

By KEN ROSS

HOLYOKE – Two men sit silently facing each other. Minutes pass. Neither says a word. They rarely look at each other. They stare at the chessboard between them, calculating their next move. And their opponent’s response.

The same scene was repeated again and again Saturday and today on the top floor of the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College, where the 83rd annual Western Massachusetts and Connecticut Valley Chess Championship was held. It’s the longest running trophy chess tournament in the country, according to Western Massachusetts Chess Association President Frank D. Kolasinski of Springfield.

A total of 20 players – all men – participated in this year’s tournament, Kolasinski said. Such numbers are lower than normal, but Kolasinski’s not worried. “The interest is here,” he said. “It just needs to be nurtured.”

Holyoke Community College Professor and college chess club advisor Jay R. Ducharme agreed. “The chess club still attracts a group of people,” he said. “There’s still an interest.”

The same is true worldwide. Despite escalating competition for free time, the ancient board game – the version played now appeared around the Mediterranean in the 15th century after evolving from much older Indian and Persian games – has grown in popularity in recent years, Ducharme and Kolasinski said.

Neither man is surprised. “It’s always been an entertaining game,” Kolasinski said. “The strategy, the unique way the pieces move. In an ironic twist, this low-tech game has been helped immensely by computers and the Internet, with millions of players finding opponents all over the world.

“The online stuff has really helped chess,” Kolasinski said. But for some, there’s nothing like facing off across a real board. Add the tension of a timed tournament and it becomes easier to understand why 20 men spent many hours playing five games apiece over the weekend.

“The allure of playing in a tournament for me is because you have larger time controls,” said Bruce J. Arnold of South Hadley. “It allows for a serious game and intellectual focus.”

Here is the full article.

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