Club Spotlight: Chess Club

Embry-Riddle’s Hottest Spot on Thursday Nights

By Ian Conte, Chief Copy Editor

It’s official: Thursdays are the new Fridays – and Embry-Riddle’s Chess Club is the new nightclub. Unironically self-advertised as “Embry-Riddle’s hottest spot on a Thursday night,” Chess Club is poised to reclaim and revive the pre-Friday night life of our Prescott campus.        

Club president Hunter Smatla and club vice-president Robbie Shaw have an unparalleled passion for community through the game of chess. Under the leadership of this daring dynamic duo, Chess Club has seen unprecedented growth.

The pair took leadership of the club in their sophomore year, two years ago. Since then, weekly turnout went from six people to anywhere up to “26, 28 people on a typical night,” according to Smatla. Shaw mentioned that many players come for just a few matches, and he’s even seen “40 people walk through” in an evening.

           Smatla and Shaw have grown the club primarily through “funny emails,” and word-of-mouth on campus, Shaw explains. During passing time on campus, the pair will often approach random students and coerce them to come to club meetings. Additionally, Smatla and Shaw trade off weekly writing absurdly hilarious, totally unhinged emails announcing their club meetings and events.

After Shaw wrote the first funny email, Smatla says, “random people would come up [to us] and be like ‘hey man, we read your emails and that is sick – I’m showing up just based off that.’ ”

           In fact, many new members last semester were enticed by the funny emails alone. Club member Jaxson Mitchell confirms this: “the club emails are what make my day… chess go brrrrr.”

           The club is open to players of all skill levels, too. Shaw says that the club is made up of “primarily novices” and that it’s common for people to show up who don’t know how to play. For the more experienced players, however, Smatla notes that there are “six or seven hard hitting chess players” who come to every meeting.

           Smatla and Shaw explain that their deep passion for this community has kept them involved in club leadership. Smatla believes that “this is one of the coolest nights, to be honest. Just seeing people that I know consistently [showing up] every week hamming and hanging out with them. It’s kind of a cool community.” Shaw confirms this and asserts that Chess Club has “a community that I don’t think other clubs really have, just because anybody can show up to play and destress from the week.”

The pair’s passion and effort to grow the club has clearly paid off. The vibe of the Chess Club meeting is intimate and supremely relaxing: the sweet, sultry sounds of smooth jazz playfully bounce off the walls of building 57B. Snide snickers and cool, collected “check’s” drift through the air between the many duos of chess players. Club members can even be overheard citing “tomfoolery” as a “classic chess move.”

           To conclude, Smatla says it best: “If you need something to do on a Thursday night – if you need some [new] friends, just come and have a great time. Play some chess with your friends!”

           Author’s note: Embry-Riddle’s one and only Chess Club meets every Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in building 57B. The club will be hosting a pizza party during their regular meeting time on Oct. 28.