My Journey To Find Chess In Utah
Playing over-the-board chess has been an on again, off again affair for me for the last 20 years. At the age of 19, I joined the Air Force. My 20 year career took me to many places with varying opportunities to play chess. In Iraq, I served with somebody who had been a scholastic state champion in Ohio. He was much better than me, but I enjoyed having somebody else who liked to play. He beat me easily every game and to this day, I still have not beat him. In Alaska, I was on a management staff of five and all of us knew how to play. At the end of the day, we would all play a couple of games with each other. In a role reversal, I was easily the dominant player of this group. I have played online chess with those guys over the years as we have all moved away. In California, I joined my first club. The club was hosted by the highest rated player in the Sacramento area. He was a Master rated 2400. He could easily squash anybody with almost no thought.
Fast forward to the end of my career. I submitted my retirement papers, completed my last year, and moved back to the same town I left two decades ago. With some extra time on my hands before school started, I began looking for a place to play chess. There was nothing within 50 miles. I looked at the USCF list of state players. With my almost 2o year old rating, I would still be in the top 100 in the state. There was not much in the way of a program anywhere.
If there is anything my service taught me, it was how to get things done. I looked up my old high school chemistry teacher. He was still living in Springville. We met up a couple times at the library to play. He was as formidable as he was when I was in high school but at least now I could scrape by with a win once in a while. We talked about the lack of formal chess in Utah. It seemed so odd to me because the culture in Utah seemed to be one where chess would thrive.
The two of us decided we would give running our own club a try. We set up a website, found a venue, made a few posts on community pages and Wasatch Chess began. Though it is only 1 club strong, we have visions of setting up Wasatch Chess Clubs in schools and communities across Utah. Its a big dream for a part time project but we are moving ahead slowly but surely.
If you too would like to find a place to play over the board, come check out one of our meetings held every Wednesday at the Spanish Fork Library. You can follow our Facebook page to get up to date information.