By Jonathan Woon
Staff reporter

Chandy Samuel positioned his knight and said “checkmate” as he finished his opponent in a game of chess. The 67-year-old surgeon who started playing chess with ground and sand, is an active member of the Cowley Chess Club today. CCC has been around since 1980 and meets every 7 p.m. Tuesday in Mossman 101.

For Samuel, chess was a popular game people played on the ground and sand back in his hometown. Born and raised in Kerala, India, Samuel is one of the four surgeons at Winfield Medical Arts. “Generally, people in India are very poor and do not afford proper chess board and pieces,” said Samuel, who then flashed back to his early childhood where he first played chess with his neighbors.

As an alternative, chess was played using naturally existing elements such as leaves, twigs and sand to resemble the board and pieces. Samuel came to Winfield in 1971 to sit for an examination with The American Board of Surgery. Along the way, he was invited by his friend to join CCC and ever since, he has been an active participating member of the club. It is now 15 years that Samuel has been playing in CCC. Being one of the early members of CCC, Samuel said, “Over the years, I realized that chess is a life changing activity. When facing a problem in life, don’t ever jump into a speedy conclusion, but rather, stop, think, decide. Then make your move.” The surgeon also promised mental development. “Most kids today are distracted with the television and computer. If and only if, they know the benefits of playing chess to the human brain, I promise, they will be smarter than usual,” Samuel said.

Charles Quinn, 67, is also an active member of CCC. He was introduced to the game of chess at the age of 15 by a high school friend. It was not until he got drafted into the Army that he played chess the most. During his service, Quinn would play chess with his colleagues over lunch break. “Forty-five minutes is all we had to play chess,” said Quinn. “Chess is an intellectually challenging game and much time and focus is needed to play good chess.” Quinn recalls purchasing a beginners guide to chess at a local book store at Lorman, Ms. It explained chess diagrammatically and was called “Chess & Pictures.”
“Always get a book that explains with diagrams. Some books explains the game with pure wordings and chess terms which make it seem like an American trying to understand Greek,” Quinn said. Quinn has played in CCC for more than a year. He hopes for more participation, especially from students and members of the community regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.

Roy L., 77, is a retired telecommunications consultant. He said that in the game of chess, you learn more by losing than winning. “If you win your first 300 games, you are playing a weak opponent,” he said. “As long as I can lift the castle, I will continue playing chess.”

Jonathan Woon is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at jonathan.woon@sckans.edu.