There’s been a number of chess clubs at Concordia over the years, but as it often happens in university, members graduate or move on without passing the club down to other students.
Chess Club Concordia is a brand new club that was created and given club-status by the CSU back in October 2019 thanks to its four executives and establishing members — Nick McNulty, Sami Noun, Liam Douglas and Adam Luqman Hakim Bin Mohamed, alongside Roman Zelensky who joined as an executive shortly after– petitioning.
The four executives (pictured in feature photo) of the club held a tournament on Jan. 16 to decide who would represent Concordia at the Canadian University Chess Championship on Jan. 18 and 19 in Waterloo, Ontario. After the last checkmate, the four members heading to Waterloo include executives Luqman, Noun and Zelensky and member Jason Chan.
“We had to create a whole new club,” said McNulty as he took one of my pawns off the board. “Concordia has probably never participated [in the tournament]. I think this is a great opportunity to maybe get our asses kicked, but that’s not the point. The point is telling the world that Concordia has a chess club. We’re trying to garner more interest.”
I sit across from McNulty for a game while we talk. There are about six games going on at once, with a couple of people watching some of the more interesting matches. Some are regulars, others are brand new to the club or are just sitting down for the love of the game.
A player asks me if I’m doing a Vienna Game opening move. I quickly reassure them that there is absolutely no strategy involved in my gameplay.
“I was in chess club when I was in elementary school,” said McNulty. “Once I met Sami (Noun), he asked if I played, and we started playing online. Chess is a lot of study and memorization, but also it’s intuition and speed. It’s a matter of sensing what’s going to happen.”
The long table where all the games are being played is extremely social. Players swap opening move strategies, laugh at a viral video of World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen beating a player in five moves, compare Lichess scores, and discuss their favourite online chess personalities like Eric Rosen and Chessbrah.
“If we win one game at the championship, that would be pretty nice,” said Douglas. “It’s not about winning so much, it’s more about us just being there. Hopefully in the future we’ll go to more tournaments that are maybe a bit closer.”
Both McNulty and Douglas talk about the community of chess players that they’ve found since helping start the club.
The club has participated in a couple of open tournaments over the past couple months. “The turnout for open events at the library is actually quite numerous,” said Noun. “It’s not five or six, but open events we get 50 to 60 people who stop and play and ask questions.”
The club doesn’t have funding from Concordia to pay for the trip, so the four executives will be paying for the trip themselves.
“Right now we’re only going to send four people because we’re worried that we’re not going to get the money we’d need [to send two teams],” said McNulty. “We’re told that special funds requests open in February, and we’ll hope to be reimbursed later.”
As McNulty traps my king into a checkmate, an onlooker reassures me by telling me that I only lost because I made bad moves.
“Chess is pretty frustrating sometimes,” said McNulty. “Especially if you want to get good at it for some reason.”