All the Right Moves
Adam Porth, Idaho Chess Association president, left, takes on John MacPhee of Coeur d'Alene in recent match at City Park.
article reported CDA Press
By BILL BULEY Staff Writer | September 14, 2023 1:06 AM
COEUR d'ALENE — Playing chess, said Steve Dahlstrom, is like solving a puzzle. Two players use pawns, knights, bishops, castles, queens and kings in search of the combination of pieces and position that leads to victory.
"Every move is a puzzle, and I like to solve puzzles," he said.
The Coeur d'Alene man's passion for the game has led to spirited battles on 64 black and white squares since he reactivated the Coeur d'Alene Chess Club on Sept. 12, 2022.
In the past year, the club has welcomed 90 players and more than 600 matches have been played.
Dahlstrom, who took up chess in his childhood, is delighted so many kids have taken up the game of strategy and skill.
"It’s amazing how quickly they pick it up," he said. "Our best player right now is 5 years old. He’s scary good."
Chess gained attention with the popularity of "Queen's Gambit" in 2020 on Netflix. The 1993 movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" also gave it a boost.
But Dahlstrom said the Coeur d'Alene Chess Club is more than just a group of players hoping to checkmate their opponent.
The club is dedicated to promoting the game of chess through fun, engaging and friendly matches, Dahlstrom said. Its rating system ensures that everyone, regardless of experience, can enjoy playing with someone of a similar level.
"Our community promotes healthy competition in a safe and friendly environment," he said. But it's not all fun and games. Many take it seriously and study via books and online games. Milo Davis, 6, won the state championship at the kindergarten level last year in Boise. Another boy, Leo Grace, is only 5 years old and one of the club's rising stars.
He's a gifted young player, Dahlstrom said. "This little guy, he knows how to play chess," he said.
Grant Richardson, the club' top player, has worked hard to get there but knows every game is a challenge.
"It's that kind of mentality that makes our chess club special," Dahlstrom said. The club has secured an affiliation with the U.S. Chess Federation and encouraged members to participate in local and national tournaments.
"The unwavering commitment and support from our members and their parents have been monumental to our success," Dahlstrom said.
He said the club will partner with the Idaho Chess Association's North Idaho Scholastic Chess League beginning in October and meet the third Friday of each month "providing a wonderful opportunity for the scholastic community to come together and share their love of chess."
Some who join the club will be lifetime students of the game. Others will give it a go and decide it's not for them.
Dahlstrom started playing seriously about four years ago because he wanted to share it with his grandchildren.
Win, lose or draw, he believes chess is good for the mind and soul. Through it, kids learn sportsmanship and respect.
"There's so much, academically, that applies to problem-solving and patience," Dahlstrom said. "It's fun to seem them discover new things."
The club's beginners meet once a week in Post Falls, while the veterans meet in Coeur d'Alene.
"We want to encourage all young players to come out and join us for these events," Dahlstrom said. "With such a passionate and supportive group already in place, this will surely be an incredible experience for all involved."
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