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Students discover chess at library club

Noah Mecklin ponders his next move during a Chess Club meeting.1 / 3
Rich Sve (left) and Wyatt Huddleston match wits in a game of chess Monday, April 9, at the Two Harbors Public Library. (Photos by Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)2 / 3
Michael Erickson (left) and Two Harbors librarian Becky Norlien analyze the scenario.3 / 3

Kids and adults are hunched over chess boards one Monday afternoon at the Two Harbors Public Library, all carefully examining their opponents decisions and plotting their next moves.

For most of the past year, this small chess club has convened on the second Monday of the month in the library meeting room to learn more about the game, which has reached across generations.

Gary Sundby of Two Harbors had mentioned to one of the librarians, Becky Norlien, that he believed the library could use a chess club. Sundby said he's started a number of chess clubs in Minneapolis and Duluth when he was in high school and technical school. Chess had been a part of his life for many years. He enjoys that it's a game young and old people can play together.

"It's a challenge. It's always different and it doesn't matter the age of the player," he said as he pondered a move against his opponent, Phil Arnold.

Arnold, however, suspects an ulterior motive for Sundby making his way over to the chess club every month.

"He likes beating me," Arnold quips.

Sundby isn't wrong about age not being a factor. Players as young as 4 and those in their early 60s play each other and learn from local chess expert Rich Sve.

Each month, Sve brings in several chess sets, including the set on which he learned the game when he was about 5 years old. He also has a board he sets up with felt pieces in front of the room so he can teach a short lesson to the club about a new move or scenario. On Monday, he brought a book his great-grandfather gave him in 1949: "Common Sense in Chess" by former world chess champion Emanuel Lasker.

Following the lesson, club members pair off and play each other for about an hour, with little regard for opponents' ages. Sometimes, Sve will sit down and play; other times, he floats around the room and checks out the progress of the games and analyzes potential moves.

"Do you see what I see?" Sve typically asks.

Sixth-graders Wyatt Huddleston and Derrick Davis learned chess from their Two Harbors High School math teacher, Daniel Lodin. They are preparing for a chess competition and Wyatt in particular has become one of the best players in the club.

"One thing I like about chess is the strategy," he said. "You have to know what you are doing — it's not one of those games you can learn fast. For me, and even Rich, there is always stuff to learn."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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