Chess on the beach

“Chess by the Beach” is a monthly gathering of chess players at the Pacific Beach Library for all ages and skill levels.

“Games are played in the library during the dark months,” said Albert Elguira, a library assistant, “and will eventually move outside [closer to the beach] come spring and summer.” The PB library is about four blocks east from the boardwalk. “Playing chess by the beach gives one a sense of peaceful concentration: just you, the board, and your opponent,” Elguira said. “One tends to play better in a serene setting.”

Elguira has been playing chess since he was a child in the Philippines. “Chess improves concentration and focus,” he said. “It inspires self motivation and taking responsibility for one’s action; optimizes memory, imagination and visualization; improves planning, thinking ahead and choosing between multiple options. These are things needed in today’s environment with kids who are distracted by so many outside stimuli, such as social media and what not.”

On November 20, NBC News posted a story headlined: “Fabiano Caruana could be first American world chess champion since 1972.” Caruana is a 26-year-old grandmaster player from New York. “The fact that an American, Fabiano Caruana, is competing against a Norwegian, Magnus Carlsen, in the World Chess Championship in London on November 28 has definitely boosted the popularity of chess.” Elguira said. “In our club alone, people have been asking for more than one day a week of chess.”

There are about 15 “Chess by the Beach” players at the PB Library. The next meeting will be on December 4, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Elguira runs the “Downtown Chess” group that plays at the San Diego Central Library and draws around 50 people every Friday from 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

Original story featured in the print edition of  San Diego Reader (December 6, 2018)