Chess is growing in popularity among young people in Bloomington through organizations like the Bloomington Indiana Scholastic Chess Club.
BISCC is a nonprofit organization for school-age chess players interested in competitive chess and skill-building. BISCC meets every other Sunday at the Monroe County Public Library.
Cristian Medina, a doctoral candidate at IU and president of BISCC, said there are many activities to choose from for children but his son was drawn to chess from a young age.
Rebecca Harris, president of the MCPL side of BISCC, said the game’s appeal comes from its simplicity — anyone of any age can play.
“The kids love the game,” Harris said. “I think it’s good for bringing people together.”
BISCC creates a competitive yet supportive atmosphere that fosters the spirit of teaching and builds relationships between the kids, Medina said.
This Saturday, BISCC will be host to 10th Annual Bloomington Scholastic Chess Open at University Elementary School. Medina said he expects 80 to 100 kids to participate in the competition.
To spread awareness about the organization, BISCC set up chess tables at the Farmers Market two or three times this season, Medina said. People can play chess and watch a simultaneous game, in which an expert chess player makes one move at a time and plays multiple games at once.
“The expert always wins,” Medina said. “It’s incredible.”
The best players are geniuses, but the game is beneficial to all, particularly the children, Medina said.
The game helps children develop focus and attention span, he said.
Jimmy Brown, an instructor with BISCC, said chess teaches critical thinking skills at a very impressionable age. Children learn to think ahead, which is a crucial tool when it comes to evaluating opportunities in life, he said.
“You’re taught at a young age the repercussions of your actions,” Brown said.
Because of this, Medina said he’d love to see more children involved with BISCC.
BISCC is also working on donating chess tables at strategic places in Bloomington, Medina said. The club has already donated chess tables to Soma Coffee House and Boxcar Books, and it is currently talking with the public library to donate a chess club table there, he said.
Medina also started an online petition to have chess tables set up in public places, such as on the B-Line and in the parks. The petition has received about 120 signatures, he said.
Though a board and 32 pieces are all that is necessary to play chess, a yearly membership and access to the biweekly meetings is $120 per year, which many families cannot afford, Medina said. BISCC is having a dine-and-donate at BTown Diner on Saturday, Dec. 10, to raise money for scholarships for students in need to join BISCC.
“Chess is embedded in American culture,” Medina said. “My goal is to raise awareness and make it available to everyone.”
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