HELENA — The Lewis and Clark Library in partnership with Ability Montana started a chess club for all levels, all ages, and all abilities.
“We're looking at this program as a way to kind of bring people back through the love of the game, to interact, to use this wonderful library space that we remodeled during the pandemic and a lot of people still haven't gotten to enjoy. But most importantly, it's just introducing people to a new hobby maybe,” says the Lewis and Clark Library Public Information Officer, Patricia Spencer.
The chess club aims to bring any and all who are interested in chess together in order to enjoy the game. Ability Montana, formerly known as Montana Independent Living Project, is particularly interested in bringing in kids and those with disabilities to this club, but all are welcome. For example, the club has accessible chess boards that are made specifically for those with seeing impairments. The boards have differently leveled white and black squares as well as tactile pieces.
“They're tactile chess boards that can be manipulated and felt through the hands without disturbing the pieces, as well. The design was pioneered decades ago and it's still strong today,” says Social Support Specialist for Ability Montana, Sean Thomas Conroe.
Another addition to the club is the ability for participants to earn 3D printed chess pieces provided by the library’s 3D printers. Just by showing up to the club, participants can start building their own chess board with unique 3D-printed pieces.
“I think the biggest boon to it is that it provides a source of pride for a community. It lets people know that even something as simple as what may be viewed as a game can be participated in by everybody. It brings a community together. Our elders, children, people with disabilities, and people without can all come together and enjoy a timeless game, a timeless activity,” says Conroe.
The chess club’s first event begins on October 5th from 6-7 PM at the Lewis and Clark Library.