CHESS CLUB BRINGS YOUNG, OLD TO RED BANK

chessTwo players compete for a grand prize Saturday in Monmouth Chess Club’s annual open championship. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Anyone out there who knew that Red Bank has a chess school and club raise your hand. Anybody who knew Red Bank has a USCF-rated chess school and club keep your hands up.

Anybody who knows what USCF stands for, you need not read any further, because you probably already know that 51 Monmouth Street plays home to Monmouth Chess School and Club, a place where a 40-year-old can match up against a 12-year-old and shake hands after a mind-crunching bout on the board.

Sharing space with the Community YMCA, the club has taken residence at the Y-owned brick building for more than a year, offering instruction, small tournaments and meetings to simply talk about chess, and on Saturday held its second open tournament of champions.

It happened with little fanfare and, of course, little noise beyond the clacking of chess pieces and the quick snap of a hand hitting a timer.

Players milled around or looked in on other matches while other competitors dueled on the chessboard.

While he waited to challenge somebody, Eatontown resident T.J. Casper told redbankgreen about the hobby he’s loved since his grandfather taught him to play chess at seven years old.

He travels to as many tournaments in New Jersey as he can, but said the showing in Red Bank Saturday was one he enjoyed because of the mix of age groups vying for the cash prize.

“Here, it’s a variety. You could play anybody between the ages of 12 and maybe 40,” he said.

The club’s director, Michael Koblentz, said the goal of having the school and club in Red Bank is to be able to draw that diversity. Players are rated on a USCF points system, not on their age, he said.

The grand prize didn’t even matter that much to Casper. He wanted more points to up his rating and maybe ready himself for another tournament in another place.

“There’s four rounds. Hopefully I’ll (win) two or three out of four. That wouldn’t be bad,” said Casper, 19. “This is for experience. I’m just excited about coming to play.”

The club meets from noon to 6p on Sundays, with classes offered Sunday mornings. To learn more, visit the club’s website.