Stop by Quinsigamond Community College’s cafeteria most mornings and you’ll find a group of students intently playing a game of chess. More often than not you’ll also see their animated and passionate advisor either playing a game with them or quietly offering advice. The students are part of QCC’s Chess Club and QCC Art Professor and avid chess player, Jerry Williams is the club’s advisor.
QCC has had a chess club for years, averaging between 10-15 players a semester. Mr. Williams has been a part of the club for as many years, working hard to dispel the stigmas that are sometimes associated with chess, and getting students to understand and appreciate the game.
“The whole idea that you have to be incredibly smart or a nerd to play chess is just ridiculous,” he said. “Chess is for everyone. It’s teachable. Chess teaches you passion, math and problem solving. The U.S. is the only country that doesn’t have chess as a curriculum in school.”
As a devoted chess player himself, Mr. Williams is coached by American chess player, Marc Esserman, who is ranked 40th among active chess players in the U.S. by the U.S. Chess Federation.
Mr. Williams brings the knowledge he gains from Mr. Esserman to the students he advises.
In fact, Mr. Williams has lined up Mr. Esserman to come to QCC for some personal coaching sessions in the near future for anyone who is interested. Additionally, he is working to set up a “simul” chess tournament with Mr. Esserman, where Mr. Esserman will simultaneously play between 20 and 30 people at the same time. Mr. Williams has done these types of “simul” tournaments himself. Most recently at the Octoberfest in Douglas where he simultaneously played multiple people. All proceeds from the tournament went toward the Douglas Library, where his wife is a board member.
In October of this year, QCC sponsored a U.S. Chess Federation official tournament that featured four rounds with prizes given for first, second and third place. The event drew between 30-35 players and included three U.S. masters and one expert, in addition to QCC students, the public, and four fifth and sixth grade elementary school students from Douglas.
The elementary school students were part of a group of Boy Scouts from Douglas. Mr. Williams teaches them about chess once a week and is quick to note that chess is for anyone of any age. In chess, age is not a factor. Young can play old and vice versa. Mr. Williams said his young players have been working hard to learn the game.
“They will get a merit badge for playing chess,” Mr. William said, adding proudly, “Two of my students won two games in the tournament we had at QCC.”
QCC students interested in playing chess or those students who just want to stop by to watch and learn, can visit Room 367A in the Administration Building any Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Mr. Williams has some sage advice for those interested in playing chess.
“Everyone who plays needs to be passionate because when you are not passionate you don’t do the work,” he said.