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Belmont Chess Club making moves on campus

Just 16 pawns, four rooks, four knights, four bishops, two queens, two kings and one checkerboard — all that’s needed for Belmont University’s new chess club.

Belmont Chess Club, which held its first meeting on Thursday, is a fresh face in the growing list of student organizations on campus.

As its vision statement says, the club strives to be “a place for players of all skill levels to come to learn and play chess” and this was on full display at the first official meeting, where 23 students came to enjoy a friendly tournament.

Even beginners got a piece of the action, learning the rules of the game and the movements of the chessmen from the club’s experts. On the flip side, advanced players powered through the final tournament rounds in seconds.

“We’re proud of our environment, of welcoming everybody including all player levels. We’re not catered to anybody who’s extremely experienced or brand new to the game. We’re open to everybody,” said Hank Keller, co-founder and president of the club.

A trio of sophomores, Keller and friends Johnson Phung and Witt Trantum, came up with the idea of Belmont Chess Club as a space for people to clear their heads and enjoy chess together.

Keller, a biology sophomore, felt that this sort of niche was lacking on Belmont’s campus.

Launching the club wasn’t easy due, in part, to the somewhat lengthy approval process for clubs. But primarily, the delay came from wanting to be as prepared as possible.

“Johnson first started working on the club at probably around December of last semester, and then finally got it approved and everything at the very end of last semester,” Keller said.

“We could have met earlier honestly, but we didn’t. We felt that if we didn’t have any boards and we didn’t have any funds or anything like that, we should probably hold off.”

Now with freshly bought boards and big ideas, the club looks to grow and get involved with other universities in the area.

“We are very excited about some potential tournaments coming up. But in the future, we’re actually hoping to get some dual chess meets with other schools, maybe Vanderbilt,” Keller said.

“Also beyond chess, we’re hoping to build a community that just wants to hang out together. We want it to go beyond our years.”

Follow @belmontchess on Instagram to find out when they meet next.

PHOTO: From left to right, Witt Trantum, Paul Hanson, who won the inaugural club tournament, and Hank Keller.

This article was written by Braden Simmons.

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