Skip to content

Experiencing The Sarnia Chess Club

What makes this Sarnia Chess Club ‘checkmate’ all the right boxes. 

It’s quite the mix of pieces at the Sarnia Chess Club at their Tuesday night meetings. 

Walking in, you are greeted by a diverse range of members: at one table is a Grade One student sitting down to a game with his mom, and then there’s the group’s local master, a 70 year-old gentleman, who spends the beginning of the night walking amongst the games, greeting everyone by name.  

Todd Charlton has been the President of the Chess Club for the past year, taking over from the club’s creator, a former student at the Ecole Secondaire Catholique Saint Francois-Xavier. He says the club is open to everyone and, it’s such a versatile game it doesn’t matter your age.

“It’s almost a sport, a game and an art, and I think it gets your brain going and people can express creativity through play,” Charlton tells me. 

The group meets every Tuesday night between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Cultural Centre connected to the French Catholic High School on Rapids Parkway. And while the game might make you feel the pressure to beat the clock, there is no pressure when it comes to your level of commitment to the club. 

“You show up, can come and go as you please, come and play one game, it’s an open house for anyone…If you’re interested but don’t have the confidence…it’s just about getting in and playing and enjoying yourself and seeing the different things that can happen on the board and the different strategies people have,” explains Charlton. 

Several games are taking place, some are more social matches, with players chatting as they plan their next move, while others, you can tell, are in it to win it. Seven-year-old Ben Duguay is playing one such game; he might be currently playing his mom, but his other favourite opponent is the club’s President himself. He goes into great detail explaining how he won against Charlton, and those details are something he loves about the game.

“You have to think hard, and have strategy,” says Duguay, adding he’s been playing the game for two years, having picked it up at a summer camp. And while Ben’s mom might be one of his favourite opponents, she is quick to say it wasn’t her who got him into it. “He took it upon himself to play chess,” Kim Duguay tells me, “he taught me how things move.” 

Andy Bruziewicz is the club’s local master, but he brushes off the title, citing he just has a love for the game he’s been playing for over 50 years, a game which has proven to have many benefits. 

“It sets your mind on the analytical path and in fact there are studies that show kids do better in math and other things when they get engaged in stuff like this,” Bruziewicz says. 

Gül Cassidy, who attends with her husband, echoes chess’s benefits and invites new members to come and join the club.

“They should definitely come because they will always feel welcome here. They will make new friends and they will learn a lot of things from other people about chess,” explains Cassidy. 

The club is hosting a tournament on May 19 at the French Catholic High School that is open to all levels and ages. 

“It’s a ten-minute Swiss, which means each player gets 10-minutes on their clock. It’s a time restraint that keeps everything running efficiently for a tournament…it will be a six or an eight game Swiss depending on how many players we get out and how much time we have,” says Charlton. 

Fourteen-year-old member Madhva Krishnamoorthy is looking forward to the tournament and reveals he is ready to compete. 

“I like to play competitive games, analyze them, I like to have long games so I can think more, those are fun,” Krishnamoorthy tells me. 

If there is one thing to take away from attending the meeting is that while chess can seem intimidating, the club proves itself to be a great place to learn. 

And as we are finishing up, Bruziewicz asks if I know the motto of the International Chess Federation. 

“It’s in Latin,” he says, “Gens una sumus…we are one family. We might be competing here, but outside we are buddies. We live by that motto.”


How To Participate 

What: Sarnia Chess Club
When: Tuesday nights 6 to 8 pm 
Where: 901 The Rapids Parkway 

All Ages Tournament 

When: Saturday May 19th starting at 9:30 am
Where: 901 The Rapids Parkway
Email [email protected] to register 

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free