Chess is a game that is relatively easy to learn but takes a lifetime to master. There are always new moves and tricks to learn with the classic board game as a few learned Saturday morning at the Elkin Public Library when Charlotte Professional Chess Teacher Chris Mabe visited the library for a special chess class.
For about two hours, Mabe gave his students some useful tips and strategies to make them stronger chess players, including how control over the middle of the board is vital in a game, how to win games with only a couple of pieces, and even a bit of history about the game of chess. After a few lessons, he took on all of his students at once in games of chess, going back and forth between everyone’s boards while giving tips and advice to each of his individual opponents.
“It was very educational and enlightening,” said Dennis Slusher. “I wish there were more people here for it. I’m just plunking along with the younger guys trying to figure it all out but there are other guys in town who like to play chess and I think they could have taken something away from this.
“The few tips that Chris Mabe gave you were great such as controlling the middle of the board and getting your pieces out and gaining confidence by getting one more piece than your opponent. It was unique. I can see why he’s an instructor. Some teachers don’t really get to a point during their lesson and Mabe hit you with some important things right off the bat on strategy.”
“I really enjoyed it and I think he taught me a lot today,” said Tyquon Nowalk. “Usually when I play chess I want to move first but he taught me to think ahead before I move and think about what’s going to happen.”
Mabe’s interest in chess was piqued one Christmas when he was 10-and-a-half and saw his brother and uncle playing. He learned at the Jonesville school and soon started playing in tournaments in the area, reaching a rating of 1376 in about a year. The chess rating is given by the United State Chess Federation and increases when someone wins games and decreases when they lose games. The higher the number of games won, the better of the rating. In 2007, Mabe attained the title National Master, won the U2200 section of the World Open, and became the North Carolina State Champion. In 2010, Mabe attained the title of Original Life Master after playing 300 tournament games.
“My brother taught chess me so he could have somebody to beat up on and I fell in love with it and started playing a lot,” said Mabe. “I read a bunch of books and studied. There was a chess club in Yadkinville called the Yadkin Valley Chess Club. My mom took me there and those guys helped me out a lot. I was also involved in the Boonville school when they started a chess club. I started teaching professionally not long after graduating from the University of North Carolina with my science degree in mathematics. I was not quite good enough to play professionally but in 2004 I got a job in Charlotte teaching in the schools and so I’ve been doing that ever since.”
Mabe continues to play and teach skills and strategies to students in North Carolina. His chess rating is now at 2,304 and he doesn’t see himself calling a stalemate in his love for the game anytime soon.
“There are a lot of aspects that I love about the game,” said Mabe. “One is the opportunity to discover some kind of fantastic move or situation that goes against the grain of what you’ve been taught because there are always exceptions with chess. You have to look really hard to find them to create a beautiful game. That’s one of my goals. I’ve always enjoyed puzzle solving. That’s what you have to do every move is solve a new problem that your opponent presents to you.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.