Can’t Spell Chess Without CHS

The Chess Club of CHS and how they’ve formed a family



Jackson Hale competes with deep thought about his next move. Hale has brought a few members to the club to share his love of chess with others.

Pieces clink across the checkered board, moving methodically as two players face off in a game of chess. Conifer students have found a family and a new hobby by being a part of the Conifer High School Official Chess Club.

“We have our own little community where everybody is comfortable with each other and we all like hanging out together,” freshman Club Vice President Lucas Forester said. “We have grown to know each other.”

But the happy family was a happy accident. Junior Sadie Bean-Osburn never meant to start a chess club. When she and a few friends were casually playing chess in the library before school, the librarian approached her group and asked if they were the official Conifer High School Chess Club. With the threat of being kicked out looming over their heads, Bean-Osburn said it was. But the librarian didn’t leave them at that. She told Bean-Osburn that she should make an announcement to bring more members to their ‘club’. Unable to refuse, Bean-Osburn did, and 4 more members showed up to join. Thus, Bean-Osburn had started a chess club. 

It only kept growing from there. There are now 22 regularly attending members and 35 overall.  All players have different skill levels and come to play with different degrees of competitiveness.

“Sometimes I just try to be myself and have fun and try to make everyone have a good time by doing funny things. But sometimes I really focus on seeing every piece on the board and what it can do,” junior Hopper Gilman said.

Since Bean-Osburn started the club, she has wanted to make sure that it is a relaxed environment for everyone. 

“When I started this club I didn’t want a somber or serious chess club,” Bean-Osburn said.

Bean-Osburn has earned a lot of respect for creating such an open and safe space for everyone. She recalls that one time a member threatened to take over her leadership of the chess club. All the members stopped what they were doing and defended her. Bean-Osburn barely had to lift a finger.  

“It was really cool to see them all looking up to me,” Bean-Osburn said.

Sophomore Quinn Dastur and freshman David Glisson compete in a game of chess in the library in the hours before school begins. (Ellie Chase)

Though the club is largely about building a community, it is also important that they focus on chess. Most members have had previous experience playing chess, but everyone is at different levels. However, they all have similar goals for learning and having fun. 

“I really have to focus on seeing every piece on the board and what it can do. One of the things I love about chess is that every piece has its own capabilities,” Gilman said.

Practice makes perfect, no matter how good a student may be at chess. Everyone who wants to be a part of the chess club can join and develop skills as they play. The chess club creates a perfect environment for everyone to learn. 

“I kind of believe that if you just play enough chess, you learn,” Bean-Osburn said. 

Bean-Osburn likes to keep the club casual, but also wants to get her more advanced players into chess opportunities. 

“We are going to start getting ranked officially and start playing outside of school,” junior Elizabeth Hinkley said. 

For anyone interested in joining the club, they meet during seminar on green days in the library or in Mr. Shirk’s classroom. For further questions, contact [email protected] (Mr. Shirk, Club sponsor), [email protected] (Sadie Bean-Osburn, Club President, or [email protected] (Lucas Forester, Club Vice President).

Everyone within the club has the opportunity to shine at chess or just have a good time. The club has many members already, but they’re still looking out for anyone who wants to join. Over time, they have developed a strong bond with one another, but they’d let anyone who wanted to join their tight-knit group.

“We are something beyond a chess club, we are a family. It’s a friendship worth fighting for,” Hinkley said.