LOUISBURG — Chess has returned to Louisburg, and it looks like it’s here to stay.
The revival began back in January, when substitute teacher Heather Eslinger started a chess club at Broadmoor Elementary.
Eslinger said her children have always enjoyed the game, and she believed a chess club would give students an opportunity to learn about the game and be a part of an after-school group.
There have been some clubs in the past, and Eslinger was determined to bring back the joy of chess. After getting the go-ahead from administrators, Eslinger launched the group with the help of some donations. She even received $200 from a retired teacher in Arizona.
The weekly club started with about 20 fourth- and fifth-graders, and it quickly grew to more than 30.
Eslinger started by teaching the basic fundamentals of the game, with the club members playing a few practice games only utilizing pawns.
Soon, though, the club members learned what each piece could do, and they even participated in a tournament.
The highlight, though, came near the end of the year. Before the students headed off for summer break they got the opportunity to participate in a human game of chess.
Inspired by a scene from the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the club members decided they wanted to become life-size pieces in a human game of chess.
Eslinger thought it was a great idea, and she created a large chess board mat that she set up on the school’s playground. After school one day in May, the club members gathered for the main event. They were each positioned on the board, either on the red side or black side, and then given hats to signify their piece.
Their movements were controlled by two eighth-grade chess masters — Cooper Anglin and Eslinger’s son Elijah.
After a hard-fought match, Elijah was victorious after capturing the red king portrayed by 9-year-old Macy Hughes.
“I’m going to be dead and I’m only 9!” Macy joked as Elijah made the final move to eliminate her piece.
There were no hard feelings, though, especially since everyone got to enjoy bags of chips and fruit drinks for a snack afterward.
Eslinger said she learned she probably needs to make the mat bigger next year, but she was pleased with the positive response to the club. She was also pleased to learn that a chess club has also been established at the middle school for next school year.