I have a number of passions, many of which have been detailed over the six years I’ve written at Inside of Knoxville. Coffee, music, Bob Dylan; I’ve pretty much covered them all. But one way I could lose myself and hours a day, if I had the luxury, is chess. I mentioned discovering some boards set up on Central during the most recent Open Streets event. It’s a game I’ve loved since I was a child and I couldn’t resist a game that day, which I lost to Terry Hill one of the founders and leaders of Urban Town Chess. I returned to talk to him and Anthony Craig, President of Urban Town Chess to learn what they are up to.
Urban Town Chess is a USCF affiliated local chess club founded by Anthony and Terry and dedicated to spreading the game, particularly to young people. It was Anthony’s idea when he returned to Knoxville from living in North Carolina. There, he said, it was easy to find a game. Here, not so much. His sister came up with the name and he and Terry began playing wherever they could when not working. Terry drives a bus for KAT and Anthony works in small format sales for Pepsi. They are joined in the venture by Vice President Andrea Majors and lead instructor Theo Patrick Patterson.
They started with games on Cumberland in Krystal and Wendy’s. They’ve also played games at the Pellissippi campus on Magnolia. Slowly the concept gained steam and they had regular players. It’s something that’s important to Terry because he grew up with the opportunity to play chess and he’d like to see young people here given that chance. Living in Cincinnati as a young person, he’d often go to Eden Park and play chess all day against older men. Anthony learned chess from his father who eventually bought Chessmaster 3000 for the family. He moved from there to reading books by chess masters like Fisher and Murphy.
Eventually the group looked for a home base and found it for a few months at 1309 N. Broadway, but you’ll now find them at 705 N. Central, just around the corner from Emory Place. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons each week (from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM) the center will be open only for students. They have five members from Vine Middle School, a few from Austin East and somewhere close to twenty total and they hope to expand. They also hope to offer other activities to students.
The group plans to offer tournaments, which would be USCF sanctioned, as they grow and they can offer rated games at the center. Eventually they will charge membership fees to adults, but for now it is free to everyone. They are open from 5:00 PM every day, closing at 8:00 PM each day and 11:00 PM on weekends. They will offer instruction and have instructional or “study” nights. They can use donations of quality chess sets (vinyl boards) and volunteer instructors are needed. Monetary donations are also accepted.
If you are interested in helping or making a donation contact Tony at (865)403-2189 or Terry at (865)560-6413. Otherwise, drop in and learn to play or challenge one of the guys. And spread the word.
Programming note: I will interview Scott and Bernadette West, owners of Scruffy City Hall, Preservation Pub and Market House Cafe this Friday at 4:30 PM (interview starts at 5:00 PM) in front of a live audience at 17 Market Square (Entrepreneur Center). Please join us. It should be fun.