BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's an ancient game that players say continues to challenge minds and win over new fans. The Biloxi Chess Club organized more than 20 years ago. Members said whether you're a master strategist or a newcomer, there is always something to learn. Players said while chess clubs around the country are falling by the wayside, on the coast the game is still popular.
Dr. David Jenkins said playing chess is exercise for the brain.
"It's challenging," said Dr. Jenkins. "It's an ancient game. It's been around for a long time. It gives your brain good exercise, teaches you how to be a good sportsman because you're competing against another person."
The Biloxi Chess Club has been around since 1990. Members say although the meeting locations have changed over the years, the love for the game has never wavered.
"You can be a beginner and beat somebody who has played for a long time," said Cecil Rosal, one of the club founders. "If you played a little bit intensely like in tournaments, that means you are a very serious chess player. In the club, you enjoy the game; you learn from it. You learn your mistakes."
One way some players learn is by studying great chess matches in history. On the day WLOX stopped by, players analyzed the moves during the Bobby Fisher and Boris Spassky 1992 rematch.
"When you play over a game between really strong players, I'm at the point now where I can understand 85 percent of the moves," said Henry Thensted, who began learning chess at age three. "It's the 15 percent that I don't understand that I really dig into, and I try to increase my knowledge base. There's some moves you wonder why did he do that."
"A lot of the younger players don't like to do it. Some people will say it's boring," said Thensted. "You have to love chess. If you really love chess, the analysis sometimes is better than what the game is."
As skill levels rise, so can the challenge. Players can move on to timed games when decisions have to be made quickly.
"If you play the game a long time like myself, the most fun part of chess is playing speed chess. Speed chess is a game in five minutes. Bullet chess is game in three minutes. Lightning chess is game in two minutes or under."
Although the internet chess matches are increasing, some members said there is nothing like sitting down at a table, looking your opponent in the eyes, matching wits and walking away with a victory.
"If you play on the internet like a lot of our younger generation do, you lose that personal touch," said Jenkins. "You forget how to interact with people because you're just interacting with a computer. On the internet, you can't see facial expressions of people when you're playing them."
The Biloxi Chess Club 1990 meets every Sunday at McAlister's in Biloxi at 6 PM. Beginners and advanced players are welcome.