Q&A with chess enthusiast Charles Wright | Saturday Q&A
Famous for: Started the Owen Wright Chess Club in memory of his brother, who was killed in a moped crash on June 16. Previously, he ran the Park Place Chess Club.
Hometown: Rockville section of Vernon.
Background: Served in the Airborne Army in Vietnam; received the Purple Heart.
Fun fact: Is also a butterfly photographer. He travels the east coast, from Canada to Florida, and takes photographs of butterflies that have been on display in local places such as libraries, museums and the state capital.
How to join: Show up any Sunday at 3 p.m. at the American Legion, 114 West St., Rockville Section of Vernon. The phone number is 860-875-1091.
Q: Why did you name the club after your brother Owen? Was he a chess player?
A: Not a lot, but a little. My brother was killed in a moped accident on June 16 of this year. The chess club is for women because I thought their partner might not have the time or know how to play. This club is like an outlet for women to come here with children and learn to play chess. The chess club is open to anyone who wishes to join. We do not refuse anyone. We meet every Sunday at 3:00 p.m. right here at the American Legion. I wanted to honor his memory. He worked at Rein’s Deli for 26 years.
Q: When did you start learning chess?
A: When I was 18, my cousin Bobby Nevin was president of the Sykes Junior High School chess club, which is now the courthouse. I called him and said, “Bobby, I want to learn to play.” We got together and I haven’t stopped since.
Q: What fascinated you so much about the game?
A: Bobby Fischer. Everyone knows Bobby Fischer, the greatest chess player of all time.
Q: How did he inspire you?
A: His knowledge of the game, his love of the game. He always tried to ensure that the people who play chess have the best conditions, lighting, calm and cash prizes. He played Boris Spassky for the World Chess Championship in ’72. I try to spread the game of chess to everyone, trying to let everyone know how awesome the game is.
It’s like taking a final exam. Every movement creates a problem. It is problem solving at this precise moment. I am after you, you are after me, I move forward and sometimes I have to go back and as you go down the chessboard, a problem will arise and you will have to resolve this problem in order to checkmate your opponent’s king.
That’s the beauty of it, solving a problem as you wake up, solving it the best you can to checkmate.
There comes a point in a game of chess when your opponent begins to attack. The question you ask yourself: “What are you doing in my neighborhood?” and vice versa. They would say the same thing. “What are you doing in my neighborhood?
This is when knowing how the pieces are moving can help you repel the attack. You constantly think, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” Are they going or not? You are constantly thinking all the time.
Q: Did you start the club because of your brother?
A: Yes. A lot of women want to play, but they don’t have anyone who has the time or who knows how to teach them. You have the UConn women’s basketball team. You have the United States women’s football team. Now Rockville has a women’s chess club.
Q: Why did you choose to orient it towards women?
A: They like to play. They want to learn to play.
Q: Did the success of a “The Queen’s Gambit” TV show appeal to people?
A: Yes. The TV show helped a lot, as chess is primarily a male dominated sport. With this show, it shows that the world of chess is open to both men and women.
Q: What do you hope he will become?
A: That everyone will appreciate the beauty of playing chess. I have already taught children, they are welcome. Everybody is welcome here.
All members of the chess club will have the opportunity to teach others to play, whether they come here or not.
You have to learn the moves to be able to play it. Strategy and tactics will come later. The key is you have to know how the pieces move and from there the strategy and tactics will fall into place. It’s not a daunting game, as people think.
If you are playing backgammon you have to throw some pretty numbers.
If you play Monopoly and roll the dice, you need to get some good numbers.
But in chess, that’s all you. I can’t say it’s out of luck, but it’s your brain. You make the movement. You solve the problem. You don’t have to worry about the role of the dice. Here it is. You look at it and see the problem and try to fix it.
Q: What message do you need to get across to encourage people to come and participate?
A: Come join our club. You will learn to play chess and see how much fun it is. You will meet other people of different ages who love to play.
If you learn to play, you will teach someone else to play. They could teach someone else.
I hope to have people who really want to learn.
Note: This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.