Sevan Muradian has the bug, and he doesn’t expect a cure for it anytime soon.
The chess bug is what inspired Muradian to open the North Shore Chess Center at 5500 West Touhy Ave. Suite A in Skokie. Marking its first anniversary this month, the center is all about chess for beginners to the hard-core chess community.
The Chicago Blaze chess team plays weekly games there by way of the computer while other special events are held at the venue as well. And for those casual players — for the grandparent and grandchild who want to play or learn more about chess, for example — the North Shore Chess Center is for them, too.
Muradian calls Skokie an ideal home for his long-time dream of opening a chess center. The significant ethnic diversity and the large Russian population of the area helped make the chess center a popular destination from the day it opened.
“Skokie is a multi-cultural crossroads where many of these cultures or ethnic groups already have a very strong love of chess and naturally support it,” he said.
Muradian calls himself “an average player,” but his passion for chess is limitless. His wife, whom he jokes is “the only Russian who doesn’t play chess,” says he is addicted to the game — but he prefers to see his interest as an intense hobby.
“I’m drawn to chess because it is an activity, a mind sport, that breaks all barriers — language, age, race, gender — and can draw people together even if they can’t communicate,” he said.
He compares chess to math and music, a universal type of language.
Muradian also believes that chess is beneficial for children and can help them improve academically. For older generations, he said, it keeps their brains active and engaged.
The Chicago resident, 36, played chess in high school before taking a hiatus for about 10 years. He volunteered to help run a state chess tournament that was poorly organized, which re-ignited his passion and ultimately led to the opening of the North Shore Chess Center in 2010.
A single comfortable room across from Skokie’s Village Crossing, the North Shore Chess Center is filled with tables and chess boards for easy playing and instruction.
The center is also stocked with a library of books with titles such as “True Combat Chess” and “Chess: 80 Classic Problems” and “Breaking Through: How the Polar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess.”
A hard-core community of chess players love the center, but others drop in all the time, too. Muradian teaches a class for children on Saturday mornings.
There have been other chess clubs and centers, he said, but few that were regarded as a serious business. Muradian’s works in technology, but he isn’t treating the chess center like a casual hobby by any means.
“This is a place for tournaments and for lessons, for people who really care about chess,” he said. “It’s for all kinds of different players. Everyone is welcome.”
For more information about the North Shore Chess Center, access www.nachess.org.