Grand Rapids Community College has many student organizations that you can join and participate in. One such group, if you enjoy strategy, is GRCC’s Chess Club.
GRCC’s Chess Club, which has over 50 students, meets on Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. in the Library and Learning Commons. On the second Friday of every month, they have monthly status meetings for their members.
The group is headed by Chess Club Advisor Brian Beecher, who is the Director of Library and Learning Commons as well.
“It’s not just checking out books and laptops,” Beecher said. “It is also working with the librarians and students. We are our own microcosm of a larger family here at GRCC. We treat each other as family. We are so student-focused now, thinking ‘What barriers do our students have that we can help bring down?’”
The Chess Club also prides itself on the diversity of opportunities it offers, especially as it concerns the future of the students’ professional development.
“They have opportunities to be on our executive committee, and there are leadership roles within this group that can help you later in life,” Beecher said. “There are people who want to learn how to lead a meeting, you know, how to put together a purchase order, and how to find the best price for a product. Those are all examples of something that you could do in a leadership role as a member of the Chess Club.”
This organization has continued to thrive despite the pandemic, as they utilize chess.com to play together. They have online tournaments and matches from time to time, and if you are interested in playing virtual chess with the club, you can get involved here.
“We have students that are active in the Grand Rapids Chess Center, which is the local club,” Beecher said. “We have some overlap between members that participate in their events as well as ours.”
With the Chess Club, Beecher hopes to create an open and engaging environment for all students, no matter their experience level.
“I think there are people who want different things out of the club,” Beecher said. “There are people who want tournaments. There are people who just want to get together for the social aspect (of the club). And then you have people curious about chess, real beginners, who just saw ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, and we help all those different kinds of people.”
The club is a place for gathering as much as it is for education. They have a variety of DVDs you can check out on strategies, tactics, openings, and general chess improvement.
“We have quite a few chess courses that people check out, and then they can learn more about chess in their own time,” Beecher said.
Of course, the nature of chess makes it an inherently productive learning activity as well. Beecher hopes that the fun of the game can be coupled with its potential for learning life lessons in GRCC’s Chess Club.
“Chess does help with logic,” Beecher said. “As you are playing chess, you are engaging with the logic centers of your brain. Those will strengthen as you live your life, you will be able to think more logically, and you will be able to create plans and prioritize major life decisions.”
Participating in online tournaments is a way for GRCC to show their competitive prowess as well. They have recently competed against Boston College and The University of Washington in virtual tournaments.
Before he matriculated at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Beecher attended community college at The University of Wisconsin-Rock County. He credits the hands-on learning experience with helping him become a better student.
“The education I learned at community college was not less than the university-level stuff,” Beecher said. “I think it was just as difficult or even moreso, as I was being taught by Ph.D.’s and not TA’s, as is common at the university level. The TA’s were working for themselves, trying to finish their degrees, but to the Ph.D. instructors, I was the priority, the student. The level of care and attention is so much better at the community college level.”
For current and future students, Beecher reminds them how important it is to utilize the resources available to you at your college.
“Get to know the staff at the college,” Beecher said. “Everybody here that I know and work with, they care. They are genuine. I worked at many campuses, and that feeling is rare. We are unique in that regard. You will find that people here want you to succeed, not just in school, but in life as well.”
If you would like to find out more about GRCC’s Chess Club, consider visiting their Facebook page here.