McAndrew: Couple finding happiness in a game of chess
12:42 AM, Jul 14, 2012

At 3 p.m., the line starts for Alan Chappell.

While many kids are content to spend summer vacation playing video games or splashing in a pool, a few dozen are hoping Chappell hasn’t had his afternoon nap.

“Has he slept today?” they ask as they set up small plastic chess boards.

Alan, 76, is legendary around the Boys & Girls Club on East Ninth Street in Reno.

“I joke with the kids that when Alan hasn’t had his nap, he’s not too bright,” said his wife of nine years, Irene Chappell.

Irene, 92, is passionate about chess. Alan is her third husband, a man she met after her second husband was murdered. They met at New Beginnings, a group for widows and widowers.

“I walked in the room and saw all these nice gentlemen,” Irene said.

“I knew I had to get acquainted with them so I went up to the first one and said, “Do you play chess?”

“Not anymore,” said the first man.

The second guy said, “Yeah, but I’m not any good.”

Alan was the keeper.

“I’m a lifetime member of the chess club,” he said.

Irene felt like she hit the jackpot. They only played twice.

“He beat me both times,” she said. They were married a year later.

Irene started teaching chess with her second husband, Bill Darnel, for the Washoe County School District in 1989. A group of volunteers started the small after-school program, and the couple eventually expanded it — introducing chess to 53 schools. They taught thousands of kids the game of strategy and patience.

“It’s proven this game helps kids and seniors,” Irene said. “It’s about concentration and problem solving.”

From 3 to 6 p.m., kids at the Boys & Girls Club play longtime volunteers Chris Chistoffersen, 88, and Ron Tazo.

Irene had a stroke a few years ago and lost some of her vision. She doesn’t play anymore but loves to be around kids.

“You just have to look at them like little people,” she said.

The kids eagerly play anyone and each other, but it is Alan that they wait for.

Alan plays about seven games an afternoon when he volunteers Monday through Wednesday, for about three hours each day. He plays kids as young as 6, with some games only taking a few minutes.

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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