chess

Owen Grant, right, has been a chess coach for 50 years. Across from him is Nicholas Warren of Rockledge and his 7-year-old son, Conrad, who has taken an interest in chess this year after playing it online.

The game of chess is popular in Brevard County, with more and more local residents of all ages learning to play it as well as participating in local tournaments.

The Space Coast Chess Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization, is one of the premier chess organizations in Florida. It supports scholastic and community chess programs locally by organizing and sponsoring chess events to foster the development of the game on the Space Coast.

Since August, the Foundation has sponsored three monthly tournaments. Many of the participants were young people.

The final monthly tournament for 2022 will be Dec. 3. It is open to all ages and will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Space Coast Health Foundation’s Center for Collaboration at 1100 Rockledge Blvd. For more information and pre-registration, visit spacecoastchessfoundation.org/p/ events.html.

Next year’s monthly scholastic and open tournament dates for January through April will be announced following the next SCCF board meeting.

Another group, the Brevard Chess Club, offers twice-weekly tournaments in Cocoa Beach and Melbourne. The tournaments are open to any skill level. The Cocoa Beach tournaments are at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bula Kava Bar and Coffee House at 124 N. Orlando Ave. in Cocoa Beach. There is a buy-in of either $7 or $12 depending on what section the player participates. At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Brevard Chess Club hosts a tournament at Island Root Kava Bar in downtown Melbourne at 1900 Municipal Lane. There is a $10 buy-in.

Sean Malone runs the Brevard Chess Club and is also a vice president and secretary of the Space Coast Chess Foundation.

“While there are players of a wide range of skill levels, we keep the events fun, social and inviting to all. We also try to match up players in sections based on skill level,” he said.

More information about the Brevard Chess Club tournaments is available at BrevardChess.org. In addition, Malone encourages those interested to join the Facebook page Brevard Chess Club at facebook.com/ groups/1161975724375706

“One thing I love about chess is that when I am playing, I am so intensely focused that everything else in the world seems to melt away for the duration of that game. I admit it can be frustrating when I feel like I am in a losing position or I make a mistake that costs me the game, but the feeling of satisfaction I get when I play a great game, find a brilliant move, or edge my opponent out in a time scramble is very thrilling” Malone said. “I would have to say winning a hard-fought chess game makes you feel proud of yourself for hanging in there, finding the right moves, and for all of the work you’ve put in over time to get to your current level of chess knowledge.”

Brevard County offers newcomers to chess a lot of opportunities to learn the game at no cost. Instructional, friendly games are available at a variety of venues including from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays at the Central Brevard Library at 308 Forrest Ave. in Cocoa.

Renowned chess coach Owen Grant, who has taught chess for 50 years in Brevard County, was asked by the Space Coast Chess Foundation to host the Sunday chess at the Library. He is at the Library on Sunday to teach and mentor folks interested in the game. A resident of Cape Canaveral, Grant said he does so because he loves the game and wants to pass along his knowledge and skills to the next generation.

In November, Grant mentored a father and his seven-year-old son who showed up at the Library.

Nicholas Warren of Rockledge said he had seen a flier about the chess lessons on Sunday at the Library and decided to bring his son, Conrad, along.

“My son started taking an interest in chess this year online. He also likes it because his uncle plays chess very well.”

Conrad, who attends Lake Fern Elementary Montessori School in Titusville, was very attentive as Grant showed him some strategies on how to maneuver chess pieces into the best position early to gain traction on your opponent.

Grant said he was about Conrad’s age when he learned to play chess at the YMCA where he lived in Syracuse, N.Y.

Grant is famous for having won a chess match against grandmaster Bobby Fischer in 1964 at a tournament that took place in the Kodak Building in Rochester, N.Y.

“I was only 17 years old at the time and I must say I was a bit nervous and in awe of Bobby Fischer,” Grant said. But then I sat down with him and remembered what my father had always said to me ‘on a given day you can beat anybody.’”

Grant then became an even greater fan of Fischer, who became the World Chess champion 1972 by winning the title match against Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. The match, played in Reykjavik, Iceland, was billed as a cold war confrontation between the U.S. and the USSR. It attracted more worldwide attention and interest than any chess championship ever played.