Mark Jenkins, April 1 post on growing the local casual chess scene

Note from Mark Jenkins. Below is a post I made on our Facebook Group on April 1, 2024. I’m posting it on the website now to provide some further background before I take the next step on helping start a south-west Winnipeg group. In that regard, an April 27th meeting didn’t happen. The Millennium side of things isn’t really taking off, but I include it to fully show where our thinking was at.

Hey folks. I’m writing to concur with Stefan’s last post. Our meetups at The Forks Market are so great, they’re at risk of being too successful.

We don’t have a relationship with the Forks North Portage Partnership (FNPP). We simply just show up to a free public space and make use of it. This is very much in the spirit of FNPP’s mission statement for The Forks, which says that

The Forks shall be developed as a ‘Meeting Place,’ a special and distinct, all-season gathering and recreational place at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, through a mixed-use approach including recreational, historical and cultural, residential, and institutional and supportive commercial uses.

No doubt most of us are customers. But we take up tables longer than the average, and at some point the market managers are going to worry this doesn’t leave enough space for other patrons with a shorter stay. You can find news stories of how this happened at a mall years ago in Vancouver.

So, we need to spread out and enjoy casual chess in more places. This will grow the game and make a stronger local chess scene for all of us.

Two main ways we will do this.

Point # 1.

We’re going to try to re-generate interest in meeting at Millennium Library. We know that many people consider it an unsuitable environment, but our hope is to at least attract a niche interest.

We’re going to now call this our Millennium Chess Study Group. At these meetups, we’re going to bring our books and not just play games. In hushed tones we’re going to study, work problems, analyze, go deep on continuations, play longer games and fight for chess perfection.

Millennium’s 4th floor is typically pretty quiet. Keep in mind that the metal detectors are not going anywhere, that there are well trained community safety hosts, and that the city is committed to keeping the Community Connections resource centre open on the main floor (outside the metal detectors), even on Saturdays.

It’s still not perfect there. Last Saturday someone out of sight was talking loudly about the state of the country for a little while. We didn’t care, the chess was more interesting.

If you’re an adult who mostly wants to play others adults, consider Millennium’s reputation to be a feature. Parents with their chess kids will prefer to be elsewhere.

Our Millennium Chess Study Group will be the destination for the serious chess players of all levels who want to work at getting better together.
Watch the schedule. On subsequent Saturday’s, you’ll see Stefan, Erik, Kyle, and myself all take on hosting.

Action plan #2.

It’s time to catalyze a new casual meetup covering a different part of the city. I propose this take place in south-west Winnipeg (south of the Assiniboine river, west of the Red).

Why south-west Winnipeg? First, it is the epicentre of chess in Winnipeg. This part of of the city is home to both the CMU and U of M tournament venues and also features an extensive private program at the Happy Math Learning Center. (shout out to Theo!)

Second, south-west Winnipeg is home to the largest new residential and commercial developments of recent decades.

Third, not only does south-west Winnipeg have the highest concentration of high earners and wealthy neighbourhoods, it also has a strong recent history of being connected to prominent Winnipegers, including at least the last three mayors (Bowman, Katz, Murray).

I also happen to live in this corner of town. As such, I am offering to facilitate an initial organizing meeting in my living room, complete with tea, coffee and cookies. I’m not going to post my address, but you can get in touch, tell me why you’re interested in co-organizing this and you’ll get invited.

Save the date. The afternoon of Saturday April 27th. FB event to come.

I’m going to recommend that folks go with a rented location for this new venture. The other Library branches are a good first affordable choice. You have a homework assignment, go check out the rentable meeting rooms at the following library branches: Bill and Helen Norie (by Pan Am Pool), Charleswood, Fort Gary, and Pembina Trail.

For bonus, check out churches and other places of worship rental opportunities on their off-peak days.

It was cool that we’ve had coffee shop gatherings in this part of town, but it’s time for something more formal. There is money in south-west Winnipeg to cover the cost of a proper meeting room. We’ll talk about how to get the dollars flowing.

Last point, we envision shared infrastructure as a thing to do between the non-CFC affiliated clubs, and we have some of that already in place to to bring to the party. I have a lot more to say about this topic, but it’s a discussion for another day!

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