Minds joust in chess on Springfield’s Park Central Square
4:58 AM, Jul 9, 2012

Nearly 150 years ago, word swept through Springfield that hordes of Confederate troops planned to surprise the town. Rebel reconnaissance considered this outpost, a crucial communications and supply link, weakly fortified.

But not far from a plaque and a memorial of the great Battle of Springfield, new battle lines began forming June 1 in Park Central Square.

They reappear every Monday night.

About 10 combatants squared off last week in wrought iron chairs, where they formalized plans of attack and helped the Urban Districts Alliance attract interest and traffic to the remodeled square.

“The UDA has been working to make it a more inviting place,” said Jenny Cahill, Park Central Square Community Liaison.

Six or seven people showed up June 1. Ten people played Monday night while a few others drifted from table to table, taking in the strategies. The nearby Blue Bull Bar and Grill, Cahill said, lent the chairs and tables for the games.

Some of the folks crossing imaginary swords across chess boards that night hailed from the Southside Senior Center, where the chess club plays every Friday night.

Joe Brozovich, 67, plays there, and faced off against a man he calls “Springfield’s City Chess Champion,” Ed Rysal, 26. The pair play often. It’s typically brain-power intense, but emotionally low intensity.

“We don’t get into many fistfights,” Brozovich said with a chuckle, his eyes locked on the chess board. “It’s just my brain versus Ed’s brain.”

Rysal, enjoying his second Monday night of chess competition, said he may not show up every Monday because he travels. But if he’s in town, he intends to be there.

What brings him out?

“Seeing friends,” Rysal said.

Brozovich described the tilts as tests of will and strategy. The further into the future a player can see — the more moves into the future — the better that person plays, he said.

The future of this UDA effort seemed assured, if the scene Monday night offered any indication.

Under the square’s gazebo, the players sat, chins buried in palms, fingers and fists drilled into temples. Concentration contorted their expressions.

The sun had slid behind the Heer’s building by 7 p.m. Breezes swirled, stirring the umbrellas at the sidewalk bar and grills across the street. The fountain roared dully across the square.

For many Monday nights to come, chess combatants in Park Central Square are preparing for visitors, as Springfield residents did more than 149 years ago.

Only this time, with open arms — and open chairs.

Source: http://www.news-leader.com

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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