Where Chess Is King On Tuesday Nights

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The boards are set. Pieces in place. Chairs set face-to-face. There won’t be a lot of popcorn or soda, just studious expressions and hesitant hands that reach for one piece, then draw back, moving with more confidence. The possibilities are endless.
It’s Tuesday. Straight up and down 6 p.m.

That means it’s Chess Night at the Stone County Community Center on the courtsquare in downtown Mountain View. Pass through here and you may find a future space shuttle commander or cabinet member or maybe just some people having fun.

It’s a hangout for local chess celebrities including two members of Mountain View High School’s state championship team. Nate Franks and Will Fowlkes have felt the pressure that goes with competing against some of the best players in the state.

“I started in the ninth grade and was just curious about the game,” Franks said. “It’s good mental exercise. You look at what you can do and what your opponent can do for each move. Chess is a game where one wrong move can destroy everything.”

Franks, a senior in the next school year, considers himself a “decent” player who can compete with just about anyone else his age. “It’s unique,” he said. “Chess makes you think in multiple directions and at multiple levels. There are few other things in life that make you think that way.

Will Fowlkes is an academic standout with several Quiz Bowl championships to his credit. He learned about the game’s movements around age 8 and became a more serious player at 12.

An incoming freshman at Vanderbilt who will study economics, physics and math, Fowlkes most appreciates the independent nature of the game.

“It’s deterministic. There is no luck involved. No cards to deal, no dice to roll. Any win is all you, and any loss is all you. No one else gets the credit or the blame,” Fowlkes said.

See the full story in the July 7, 2021, issue.

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