Montana Public Radio

Blackfeet Community College Chess Team Competing In Flathead Championship

Oct 10, 2014

At Blackfeet Community College, competitive chess is a growing interest.
Credit Thomas Helbig (CC-BY-2.0)

Chess Masters from across Western Montana convene in Kalispell tomorrow for the 15th annual Flathead Chess Championship.

The Blackfeet Community College chess team will be among the competitors looking to take home the grand prize and bragging rights.

The Blackfoot Community College chess team competed at the 2014 Eastern Washington Open at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA October 4 and 5.
Credit Mark Anderson

The team was formed last year and won an overall national tournament. It also won 1st and 3rd in individual rounds at the same event. 

Chess team coach Dr. Mark Anderson says the club is attracting students despite stiff competition for their attention by gadgets and videogames.

He thinks they enjoy the intellectual challenges of chess.

"This is the second year of the program and we have four young ladies playing chess," Anderson says. "We got guys playing too. I think it's more the experience of doing. We've got a reading room with ... two chess boards set up right there and they're always busy. People are playing all the time."

One of the many courses Anderson teaches is a critical thinking chess class, which he says is a one-of-its-kind course.

"We've had term papers, like, 'Is Chess Sexist?' Well, think about it. The object of the game is to protect the king, right? Even the queen does that and the queen is the most powerful piece. A feminist might argue that the game is sexist because you're supposed to attack the enemy king and protect your own king. What about the women? What about the queen? Some have even argued that maybe chess is racist. It went to Europe after being in India; if you look at a chessboard, white always moves first."

The 15th Annual Flathead Chess Championship will be held at Kalispell's Red Lion Hotel on Saturday.