Chess club welcomes beginners and competitors

The newly re-founded Rook & Bishop chess club allows students to learn the game or compete


Courtesy of Flickr

Members of Wake Forest University’s Rook & Bishop Chess club prepare for an upcoming intercollegiate competition.

Meredith Prince, Features Editor

While many students have picked up a game of chess a few times in their life, for some members of Wake Forest’s Rook & Bishop Chess Club, it has become a passionate hobby as well as a competitive sport. 

Rook & Bishop, which was created last year, is technically a re-foundation of a preexisting Wake Forest chess club that became inactive several years ago. When a group of friends decided to start a small group for chess-lovers, they were faced with the challenge of essentially rebuilding a “lost club.” 

“We reached out to the school and said we wanted to start a chess club, but then the school told us that there was an existing chess club on their system,” junior Daniel Ruan, social chair of Rook & Bishop, said. “The question of who actually founded the chess club [is difficult] because it was not us, but it wasn’t active anymore. However, the school wouldn’t allow us to start that brand new club. So, we reached out to [old members] and asked if we could take over. We took over, changed the name and then we essentially restarted the club.”

Faced with the challenge of rebuilding and revitalizing the club, the executive board is working hard to spread the word of their new organization through social media and advertisements around campus.

“We are still relatively new after [restarting] the club, so we are on our way to expand,” Ruan said. “We have posters all over campus trying to get new members to come, but it’s really sad because it seems like nowadays, college students are less into chess, which is somewhat understandable, but we are still trying to get more people to come.”

While the club has around 100 interested members in their group chat, Ruan notes that only about 20 of those members are actually active. With the constant bustle of everyday college activities, commitments and homework, it may be difficult for interested students to find the time to sit down and learn or play chess. “I think chess is an interesting form of entertainment, especially nowadays, when not a lot of people appreciate it,” Ruan said. “Once you get into it, you can see how chess can help calm you down, entertain you or give you a way to kill your free time. It’s nice to have a place for people to sit there quietly for a couple of hours and just play chess.”

Senior Alfonso Berguido, president and re-founder of Rook & Bishop, echoed Ruan’s statement that this club can simply act as a state of relaxation for interested players. While the club is trying to give beginners a community to learn and improve, it’s also open to those potentially interested in playing chess competitively. 

“We’re a club that wants to have a space that’s open to anybody who is interested in chess,” Berguido said. “You don’t have to be competitive or even know anything about chess. It could be something as simple as you watch the “Queen’s Gambit” and you want to talk with someone about the show. Or it could be on the opposite end, that you want to get better at chess and be competitive.”

The club is a member of the Collegiate Chess League, representing Wake Forest in competitions. Competitive players compete against teams from other universities throughout the semester and even get the chance to compete in playoffs with a hefty cash prize. Last semester, one team of four made it to the “championship round,” placing second in a close 8-7 match. Berguido hopes to expand the competitions for interested members.

“We recently connected with UNCB and we’ve also connected with Duke,” Berguido said. “We could host a tournament for the Triad area or North Carolinian chess tournaments.”

Although current members are excited for the opportunity to compete at the intercollegiate level, they also enjoy feeling part of the welcoming community that the club provides for all members. Junior Mitesh Das, treasurer of Rook & Bishop, has formed friendships through the club’s opportunities.

“It’s a really nice community of people,” Das said. “A lot of us met through the club, and I’ve made some really nice friendships within the club. It’s a really welcoming community that accepts a lot of different people from all grades.”

If you are interested in learning chess, playing casually or even competing internationally, check out their Instagram account @wfuchess.