The newest festival to hit New Orleans is dedicated to one of the oldest games: chess.
Long a storied city in chess, New Orleans was home to 19th-century chess genius Paul Morphy, and today it boasts a vibrant chess culture in coffee shops and schools. New Orleans Chess Fest is designed to bolster enthusiasm for chess for everyone — but especially for students.
The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center, 4300 S. Broad St., New Orleans.
Events include a Harry Potter-style “living chess” game, free lessons and tournament games, a “blindfold chess” demonstration, chess art activities and a “simul,” in which a chess expert plays dozens of opponents at once.
The festival headliner is Mike Klein, a Charlotte, North Carolina, FIDE Master and content director for chess.com and chesskid.com. The World Chess Federation (Federation Internationale des Echecs) is known as FIDE from its French acronym. Gold memberships to chesskid.com will be given away as prizes.
Also appearing will be Chicago chess coach and former national high school blitz (five-minute chess) champion Robby Rasmussen. Louisiana Chess Association president James Rousselle and local chess coaches will be on hand to answer questions about how to start chess programs in local schools, as well as to offer lessons to players of all skill levels.
For information, contact event organizer Michael Tisserand, a chess coordinator for Lusher Charter School, at email@example.com or (504) 250-3634.
According to event organizer Michael Tisserand, a chess coordinator for Lusher Charter School, Lusher has about 60 active tournament players, as well as another 40 or so who play in the school club but prefer not to compete against other schools.
“Chess Fest isn’t a Lusher activity; it’s designed for all chess players of all ages, with a special emphasis on kids. If one family leaves Chess Fest deciding to go back to their school and help start a chess team, it will have been a success.”
In the days of video gaming, Tisserand said, you cannot compare gaming with chess, but, “I think one of the unique appeals of the game of chess to kids is that it is tough. It takes a lot of toughness — mental, emotional — to sit down and play a good, competitive chess game. Just as we’ve rediscovered the pleasures of slow food, I think the interest in chess might be a rediscovery of slow gaming. I see kids who otherwise might not sit quietly for a minute sit down to an hourlong chess game, even a two-hour game, because they’ve learned, through chess, the great rewards of deep, concentrated, creative play.”
A partial list of schools that host chess teams and clubs includes:
- AIRLINE PARK ACADEMY FOR ADVANCED STUDIES: 6201 Camphor St., Metairie; coach Adriana Schneider, firstname.lastname@example.org
- AUDUBON CHARTER SCHOOL: 1111 Milan St., New Orleans; coach Russ Popara, (504) 610-4750
- BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL: 2001 Leon C. Simon Drive, New Orleans; coach Jeffrey Vollmer, email@example.com
- CHRISTIAN BROTHERS SCHOOL: 8 Friederichs Drive, New Orleans; coach Jeff York, firstname.lastname@example.org
- DE LA SALLE HIGH SCHOOL: 5300 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans; coach David Pierson, (504) 503-7657
- DR. KING CHARTER SCHOOL: 1617 Caffin Ave., New Orleans; coach Jeffrey Vollmer, email@example.com
- THE GOOD SHEPHERD SCHOOL: 353 Baronne St., New Orleans; coaches Dex and Don Webster, firstname.lastname@example.org
- HAYNES ACADEMY FOR ADVANCED STUDIES: 1416 Metairie Road, Metairie; coach Ken Ferguson, email@example.com
- HOLY NAME OF JESUS SCHOOL: 6325 Cromwell Place, New Orleans; coach Ken Ferguson, firstname.lastname@example.org
- THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF LOUISIANA: 1400 Camp St., New Orleans; 502 Olivier St., New Orleans; 8101 Simon St., Metairie; coach Dan Johnson, email@example.com
- ISIDORE NEWMAN SCHOOL: 1903 Jefferson Ave., New Orleans; coach Jeff York, firstname.lastname@example.org
- LUSHER CHARTER SCHOOL: 5624 Freret St.; 7315 Willow St.; coach Michael Tisserand, email@example.com
- METAIRIE ACADEMY FOR ADVANCED STUDIES: 201 Metairie Road, Metairie; coach Ken Ferguson, firstname.lastname@example.org
- METAIRIE PARK COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL: 300 Park Road, Metairie; coaches Andy Talmadge (high school), Jason Abate (middle school), Charlotte Gregory (elementary); email@example.com
- PATRICK F. TAYLOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ACADEMY: 701 Churchill Parkway, Avondale; coach Bob Ballard, firstname.lastname@example.org
- ST. ANDREW’S EPISCOPAL SCHOOL: 8012 Oak St., New Orleans; coach Greg Agamy, email@example.com
- ST. ANGELA MERICI SCHOOL: 835 Melody Drive, Metairie; coach Nick Matta, firstname.lastname@example.org
- ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA: 400 Codifer Blvd., Metairie; coach Bob Ballard, email@example.com
- ST. DOMINIC SCHOOL: 6326 Memphis Drive, New Orleans; coach Russ Popara, (504) 610-4750
- ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL SCHOOL: 6249 Canal Blvd., New Orleans; coach Russ Popara, (504) 610-4750
- STUART HALL SCHOOL FOR BOYS: 2032 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans; coach Jeff York, firstname.lastname@example.org
- T.H. HARRIS MIDDLE SCHOOL: 911 Elise Ave., Metairie; coach Don Shannon, email@example.com
- TRINITY EPISCOPAL SCHOOL: 1329 Jackson Ave., New Orleans; coach Ken Ferguson, firstname.lastname@example.org
- WOODMERE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: 3191 Alex Kornman Boulevard, Harvey; coach Kendric Perkins, email@example.com
Both kids and adults can compete at places to play chess nearly every night of the week in the New Orleans area, excluding Sunday. These include:
- TREMÉ CHESS CLUB: 6:30-8:30 p.m., The Café Fatoush, 2372 St. Claude Ave. (at St. Roch Avenue), New Orleans. G/15, Quick-Chess rated games; $1 entry fee. For more information, call Jeffrey Vollmer at (504) 524-2806.
- METAIRIE CHESS CLUB: 7:30 p.m., Clearview Shopping Center Food Court, 4436 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. G/90 five rated games played one each week; $5 entry fee for entire tournament. For more information, call (504) 834-4054 or (504) 710-9975.
- MARRERO CHESS ORGANIZATION: 6:30 p.m., Chopsticks Restaurant, 15 West Bank Expressway (at Franklin Street), Gretna. Skittles games only. No entry fee. For more information, call (504) 710-9975.
- CHESS NOLA QUADS: 6-9 p.m., Panera Bread, 309 N. Carrollton Ave. (near Bienville Street), New Orleans. 3 rounds, G/25, d5. Rated games — must have USCF membership (can be purchased on-site) — $5 entry fee. Prize is gift card for winner of each quad.
- (LA) UPTOWN CHESS CLUB: 7 p.m., Pepperoni’s Cafe, 8123 Hampson St. (at S. Carrollton Avenue), New Orleans. Four G/20 unrated games played in one night; $5 entry fee. For more information, call (504) 881-1400 or (504) 710-9975.
- (LA) TREMÉ CHESS CLUB: 10 a.m., The Café Fatoush, 2372 St. Claude Ave. (at St. Roch Avenue), New Orleans. Three G/40 rated games; $1 entry fee. For more information, call Jeffrey Vollmer at (504) 524-2806.