The Chess Club will compete in its first collegiate tournament on Feb. 23.
Jason Martinez, freshman accounting and finance major from Austin, formed the club during the fall semester.
“I came to ACU ready and expecting to start a chess club,” Martinez said. “I’ve played chess ever since I can remember. I learned at a really young age and always really enjoyed it.”
Martinez said that although the group may be small, he believes it has potential to perform well in this tournament.
The Chess Club meets every Friday at 6 p.m. in the Bible building.
ACU had a chess club in the early 2000s, but it fell apart when the leader did not designate a plan or a new leader to keep the club going.
Martinez said he hopes the club will continue after he graduates, and is following steps to ensure everything is planned and the group is prepared for each meeting or tournament.
“So far we’re set on one team, and we may be able to fill out another team but that’s still not certain,” Martinez said. “I definitely have big expectations and dreams for this club. I really want it to grow and become a big thing at ACU.”
While the team is still looking to recruit more players, Martinez said the team is looking forward t0 the upcoming tournament. The tournament will host several Div. 1 schools, including UT-Rio Grande and Texas Tech.
“Texas Tech has the best chess program at the collegiate level in the nation, and I think they’re bringing three teams along with them.”
Martinez said each team is permitted to bring any number of teams to the tournament. The top three teams will advance to the finals.
“We just want to get a good experience and a good feel of how it is play competitively at collegiate level,” Martinez said. “One team usually consists of three people and one alternate, and right now we have a team of three.”
Martinez said a season was created within the club for the team to play against each other, form a leaderboard and compete in knockout tournaments against each other as practice. Before each meeting, he has a lesson plan prepared.
“Half of the club is fairly new or learning,” Martinez said. “Chess is not a hard game, a lot of people don’t want to try it or are afraid because they’re like ‘oh, it’s for smart people’ – it really isn’t. For me, it’s like a puzzle, which is really fun to me because I really love puzzles.”
Martinez said he has always wanted to play in big tournaments where he can continue to get better while competing.
“I don’t want to let it go after I graduate college, I want to keep it as a hobby,” Martinez said. “Chess really does a lot more for you than just learning the game. It teaches you to think ahead and plan and be patient. These are all things that will help you out in life.”