For both kings and pawns, chess is the game of a lifetime

And, hey, it’s not every day a grandmaster drops by

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011


Their brows were furrowed; their focus, intense. They used opening moves with names like the “King’s Gambit” and “The Sicilian Defense.”

To the nonplayer, it may seem like just another board game, but for participants in the Columbia Open Chess Tournament held Saturday, it was anything but.

The three-day event, held at the Hilton Garden Inn in the Harbison area, drew players from six states and two countries — some as old as 75, others as young as 10 and 11.

“We work hard to put on a good tournament,” said organizer Erik Murrah, a regular in the Columbia Chess Club, which sponsored the event.

Murrah, who was checking players in on Saturday, said interest in the tournament, now in its third year, has grown with each successive year. “We had about 63 that first year, 69 the second and expect to have about 78 playing this year.”

And while Columbia — or the Southeast, for that matter — is not exactly known for chess, Murrah believes the interest is there and may be growing. “Believe it or not, years ago, South Carolina used to be a strong chess state. … So we wanted to get back to that strong level of interest it deserves.”

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar