A couple of my friends have spoken very highly about the Menlo Park Chess Club which has been steadily growing since its launch in the Fall of 2021. On Wednesday evening I visited the club for the first time to see what all the excitement was about.
Upon arriving, you will notice the serenity surrounding the club which is located at the beautiful Arrillaga Family Recreation Center. Visiting this location brought back fond memories of The Sojourner Truth Chess Tournaments for girls and women which I had the pleasure of organizing at the same location a couple decades ago. Just like old times, I was greeted by the fresh scent of trees, lots of friendly squirrels and even the ducks seemed to be enjoying the sunset.
The Menlo Park Chess Club meets Wednesday evenings from 6:00-9:45pm and offers “casual instruction, lectures, informal play, rated tournaments and other chess activities, striving to appeal to players of all ages, interests and skill levels, from complete beginners to strong masters.” Their webpage has an event section that is worth checking out so you know what to expect on any given Wednesday.
This evening there was a formal tournament occurring in the Cypress Room and an area across the hall for skittles games. I first entered the skittles room where a friendly stranger welcomed me in and invited me to sit down for a game of chess. Across the hall there was a rated tournament occurring with a time control of G/45 d/5. The tournament seemed to have a wide spectrum of skill levels and ages so players of all different strengths should feel confident in finding suitable competition. The room was also kept very quiet with players quickly moving to the aforementioned skittles room as soon as their games finished. Regardless of which room you were in, the players were comfortably spread out with plenty of space to spare.
All in all, I give the Menlo Park Chess Club straight “A’s” for location, organization, friendliness, skill level variety and fun. Even if you need to commute from outside the Peninsula to the club, the overall experience there is definitely worth the time on the road. Hats off to the Club Director Mark Drury for organizing such a wonderful chess club!
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