The chess game of the century? Not quite. But the room was as quiet as a tomb at midnight. The tension in the air was palpable. Six of the center's chess players, including Chess Club founder Frank DeStefano, sat transfixed at their boards, concentrating on their positions with laser-like focus. They were playing an ancient game that probably originated in India in the sixth century: A game of war, really, that requires deep concentration, careful strategy and the ability to think ahead. Considering there are 72,084 possible positions after the players make two moves each, that's not always easy.
Playing against the six Chess Club members simultaneously was four-time state chess champion Michael Finneran, of Fairfield. He walked silently from one player to another, each time stopping to analyze his opponent's position, and then making a deliberate, often decisive move.
Why is chess such an engrossing, popular game?
DeStefano says, "I like the problem-solving process. I also believe that there is real beauty to the game in the various positions and combinations. Finally, I like the fact that winning isn't everything. You learn more in defeat than in victory, and even when beaten, you can just resign and start all over again."
Speaking of defeat, did we mention that Finneran won every game?
"He beat us all with comparative ease," said DeStefano. "I was gratified that I could put up a stout defense for a while, but in the end he wore us down with his relentless play. Toward the end, as I surveyed the board for some opportunity, I marveled at the way his pieces were all working together. It was a real pleasure to play with a player of his caliber, as well as with a fine young gentleman."
The Chess Club was founded in 2008 and meets at the Fairfield Senior Center every Wednesday from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome, from neophytes to grand masters. Call 203-256-3166 for details.