‘Chess in The Parks’ held at Myrtle Park in Indian Orchard

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thanks to the lockdowns that kept everyone at home, there are a record number of people playing the game of chess.

It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, the game of chess can be played by anyone, anywhere.

“It’s more than the game itself. It’s more about the analytical skills you learn from it.”

Chess has seen massive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the number of people stuck at home. To help get people out in their community, the Indian Orchard citizens council hosted an introduction to chess event at Mystic Park in Springfield.

Zaida Govan, President of the Indian Orchard Citizen Council, told 22News, “We’re giving the community the opportunity to learn about chess and as we know, chess develops some very high level skills.”

Online chess websites like chess.com saw 1.5 million new accounts created in April 2020, according to Forbes business magazine. The game has a beneficial pastime because it results in better brain function, improved memory and cognitive abilities. Experts say playing chess can improve mental age by up to 14 years.

Bryan James Mcfarland has been playing chess since he was 7 years old, learning the game from his aunt, “You set up a goal and you stage it and you go into those stages to complete that goal and that can be used in just about any aspect of your life.”

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Indian Orchard Business Connections Committee, the idea was inspired by the 2020 Netflix mini-series, ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ that takes place in the Cold War era starring an orphaned chess please that struggles with the addiction to become the world’s greatest chess player.

“For those people who have gotten hooked on the Award winning Netflix mini- series, ‘The Queen’s Gambit, during the Pandemic, and have gained a new found interest in the game of Chess, take heart”, said Zaida Govan, President of the Indian Orchard Citizens Council.

“Chess is known to increase different aspects of intelligence, cognitive abilities, memory, and recall,” said MacFarland.  “An empowered mind is one of the best tools a person can have to help them succeed at their goals. We believe that through learning and playing the ancient game of chess that you will think better, more clearly, and faster.”

State Senator Adam Gomez has been working on getting more chess boards into local parks for kids to play, “Kids and people want to go into the parks and it’s something that’s part of the urban community.”

And it’s not only a kids game, you can always make it a little interesting.

“Me and Rep. Orlando Ramos are betting lunch! And I’m definitely winning,” said Gomez.

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