Chess That Makes Change: An Inside Look at Palmetto’s Chess Club

Ana Martinez, Online Editor-in-Chief

After surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami Palmetto Senior High’s Chess Club has resumed its in-person meetings and begun a new chess club at Southwood Middle School.

Established approximately four years ago, students founded the Chess Club in hopes of creating a recreational space for people to play chess. 

“One of my older students was very enthusiastic about chess, and he asked me if I would sponsor,” Palmetto Pre-AP and AP Chemistry teacher and Chess Club sponsor Yuria Sharp said. “I’ve never heard so much enthusiasm; it was really the students that had the enthusiasm that started the club.”

Throughout the years, the club has accumulated approximately 35 members. The board invites students to play chess with other students using the 20 chess sets in Dr. Sharp’s classroom during each meeting. 

“Chess has a million different strategies and ways moves can play out,” Palmetto senior and Chess Club president Aiden Kong said. “It’s relatively simple, but there are so many complexities within [the game].”

Many students, including Palmetto senior and Chess Club member Alexandr Kim, have played chess for many years; the Chess Club serves as an outlet for students to practice their skills. 

“When I was young, my grandparents played chess a lot,” Kim said. “Chess plays a cultural role in Kazakhstan. All of the neighborhood kids played chess against each other from a very young age.”

The COVID-19 pandemic inhibited students from the in-person contact and games in the club’s typical meetings. However, Chess Club persisted, offering presentations and virtual chess competitions for students to gain new strategies.

After the pandemic, Chess Club resumed, holding their first in-person meeting in over one and a half years. During this time, the club found additional ways to give back to the community. With Kim’s establishment of a chess club at Southwood, members of the club visit the school every Thursday to play with younger students. 

Additionally, the Chess Club has integrated members of other clubs — Finance Club and Key Club — into participating in the Southwood Middle’s chess club. Palmetto Chess Club board members aid the Southwood board members in organizing each meeting and the middle school’s approximate 40-member attendance. 

As the Chess Club returns to normalcy, board members plan to begin chess competitions for students interested in joining. However, the club continues to offer community service opportunities and sociable meetings for any student interested in playing chess. 

“I like seeing people meet new chess players and socialize and learn new things,” Kong said. “It is a really welcoming environment and even if you don’t play chess well, you can [still] learn about the game.”