Campus chess club moves into action
RELEASED: October 4, 2007
Editor's note: This story was written by Spence Kimball '09 and a slightly different version of it was published in The Cento, Centre's campus newspaper.
DANVILLE, KY—Students and professors alike, crammed into the tiny confines of Young 106 on a beautiful Thursday evening, watch intently as Dr. Jason Leddington, visiting assistant professor of philosophy, moves pieces across a felt chessboard hanging from the wall. As he shifts around two opposing kings, positioning them in different squares, revealing the consequences that can result from just a single lapse of judgment, the subtlety of the game becomes clearer. This room of hushed enthusiasts, carefully analyzing Leddington's examples with the hope of strengthening their own games, makes up Centre College's new chess club.
"It's the game itself that has this wonderful combination of apparent simplicity and deep complexity," Leddington said, while discussing the game on a park bench in front of Sutcliffe [Centre athletics facility]. "The pieces move in very simple ways, and it seems that you should be able to see what's going on, but there's also this tremendous depth to it."
For those who play chess, there is something special about the game. It is not just another board game whose outcome is decided by the vagaries of chance.
"Chess was typically contrasted with games of chance like dice, historically," Leddington said. "Dice and other games of chance suggest a lack of freedom, but chess is not a game of chance at all. Chess has a connection to free will and responsibility that was absent in games of luck." In other words, chest takes real skill and intellect. Odds can't make up for talent.
Born in Sweden and raised in Connecticut, Leddington arrived at Centre last year to teach philosophy after finishing his Ph.D. at Northwestern.
When asked what possessed him to create the club, he said, "The main motivation was to find people with whom to play and to convert what at times for me has been a relatively solitary endeavor into something more social, more community engaged."
He continued, "I was surprised that Centre didn't have a chess club when I got here. You have a strongly intellectual body of students."
For the members, the reasons for joining the club and playing the game vary.
Sophomore Keane Barger, who has been playing for four years, said, "I mainly like the competition. It's kind of a way to release aggression in a non-destructive way."
Sophomore Ricky Ackerman, who has no competitive experience, said, "I just like playing games. It's fun."
Dr. Leddington, however, stressed that "competition can heighten the experience and help you play better, but it's not the focus."
When asked what he enjoys most about the game, he responded, "The greatest pleasure for me in playing chess is the feeling or the activity of thinking, the activity of my own mind. Part of that is taking pleasure in solving a great problem."
The Chess Club meets each Thursday at 7 p.m. in Young Hall, room 106.
- end -
Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422