Auburn Chess Club draws mates of all ages

Players meet Thursday nights
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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The air is thick with thinking in The Power Club Thursday evenings as chess players young and old deliberate their next moves.

Only a few weeks old, the Auburn Chess Club is already drawing more and more players of all skill levels to the weekly meetings. The setup is informal, with players dropping in as they please and Brian Morris quickly setting them up in the game rotation.

“Somebody can walk in right now and say, ‘Can I play?’ and we’ll get you in a game,” said Morris, who laughingly took on the title “king” when asked what his official role in the club is. 

While casual games are played, the club is affiliated with the United States Chess Federation, meaning some games will be “rated,” in which scores add or take away from a player’s overall rating. Ratings are determined based on a player’s results against other players – the higher the number, the better the player. The number of points won or lost in a contest depends on the difference in rating of the players, so a player gains more points by beating a higher-rated player.

“What happens when you play chess is that you have a certain volume of things that you know,” said Bob Russo, of Citrus Heights. “An average-class person, who would be somebody that you would see here, would know about 300 chess moves. A grandmaster would know like 30,000.”’

That means a rating of nearly 3,000, said Morris, whose rating is about 1,300. 

The club is open to people of all skill levels, from lifemaster Arthur Braden, of Auburn, to 5-year-old Adam Lee, also of Auburn, who started playing six months ago.

“Chess is a cool game and I like learning stuff,” Adam explained as he faced his mother in a game played on a Super Mario Bros. chess board. His parents, Alfred and Peggy Lee, are the owners of the Power Club, which has opened its restaurant to the players.

“I think it’s a really good game that teaches a lot of strategy and thinking,” Peggy Lee said, adding that Adam has been learning from the other members of the club. Players who arrive about half an hour early, Morris said, are treated to a free lesson.

Games are timed, and each player has 25 minutes to complete all of his or her moves. Morris said that while there are plenty of boards, the club could use more clocks. 

Auburn’s Jim Mayfield said he started playing as a child, and has been a chess player on and off for 50 years.

“I guess I learned on my own,” he said. “When you got your little box of toys, your checkers set came with a chess set in it, and nobody knew how to play it. I just read the rules and started playing.”

No matter how long it has been since a player broke out the chess board, Morris said, they’re welcome at the Auburn Chess Club. Playing against a variety of opponents provides for more learning, which Russo said is essential to the game.

“Maybe Brian knows 300 things, maybe I know 400 things – I have a little bit higher ranking than Brian does,” Russo said. “His 300 things may be the ones that happen to come up in the game. I try to improve on the volume of things that I know.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.



Auburn Chess Club
6:30 p.m. Thursdays
Where: The Power Club, 195 Harrison Ave., Auburn
Cost: Free
Info: (562) 810-9113;