New Chess Club Has Touch Of Ancient Gameplay – Jamestown Post Journal

Different forms of chess are played every week at the Tamerlane Chess Club in Jamestown. Pictured in back from left to right are Dick Kalfas and Dan Miraglia. Pictured in front from left to right are Dan Swackhammer, Ned Lindstrom and Greg Myers.
P-J photo by William Mohan

Jamestown has a new Chess club on the block.

The Tamerlane Chess Club is interested in learning and practicing gameplay from ancient times. The group is the brainchild of organizer Greg Myers. Although the club is only a month old, 14 members have enrolled. The group combines historical research, war gaming and play theory to play unique chess games.

“A couple of years ago I was surfing the internet and came across this Tamerlane chess variant, and it got me interested so I learned the rules,” Myers said.

At the time, Myers was attending the Jamestown Chess Club that met at the Jamestown YMCA.

“I went there and presented the idea that we should combine forces,” Myers said.

Tamerlane Chess Club members play various forms of chess every week. Pictured from left to right are Ned Lindstrom, organizer Greg Myers and Dan Swackhammer.
P-J photo by William Mohan

With that in mind Myers went on social media to promote the new group. He also set up the group at a rented room at Chautauqua Comics. Currently, TCC meets every Thursday from 5-7:30 p.m.

Members have diverse motives to attend every week. For some it’s the curiosity of the club’s name that draws attention. Member Ned Lindstrom summed up his first week in attendance: “I saw it posted online,” Lindstrom said.

In addition, Lindstrom admitted curiosity about Tamerlane and the theme that perked his interest.

“I’m a medieval reenactor and I go annually to international conventions. One of the things that’s done there is they have a tent just for table games from all parts of the world historically,” Lindstrom said.

In particular, he performs as a Viking, and having seen many ancient games, he was interested.

TCC member Dan Swackhammer has a long term reason to attend. “I’m here to let my brain go,” Swackhammer said.

Coming from a family with a genetic history of Alzhiemer’s, Swackhammer is trying to ensure he is rejuvenated weekly. “I’m trying to exercise my brain cells with something I’ve never learned,” Swackhammer said.

With many of the games not available on the mass market, Myers has managed to improvise. Two of the boards are created from a piece of plywood. In addition, he has created pieces for the games from polymer clay.

Currently, four versions are played by the group in addition to modern chess. The games in question are Chatarunga, Shatranj, Citadel, Tamerlane and Courier.

Chaturanga is the earliest form of chess likely developed in sixth century India in the Gupta Empire. The Rules are similar to modern chess, except there are no queens and bishops are replaced with elephants. Stalemated players also lose.

Shatranj was created after the game moved into the Persian Empire in the seventh century. Its rules were slightly altered after the Arab conquest of Persia. The game is played on a 10-by-10 board with an extra square on either side. A player also loses when stalemated or having only a move left that would lead to checkmate.

Citadel chess is a variant of Shatranj from the 14th century. What differentiates the two is four citadels protrude from each corner and each have a distinct purpose. Generals, elephants and war machines are some of the unique pieces in this game.

Tamerlane is a game first described in 14th century Persia. The game was played obsessively by Tamerlane the Conqueror. The game is played on a 10-by-11 board with an extra citadel for each player. Pieces unique to this game are War Machines, Giraffes and Camels. In addition, each pawn is unique to a certain role in the game. The game’s rules come from an ancient Persian manuscript in the Royal Asiatic Society in London. It is from this manuscript that Myers constructed his board and pieces for the game.

Courier Chess was popular in Europe and the Middle East for over 500 years. The game was probably initiated at some point in the 12th century. The game is played on a twelve by eight board. The unique pieces used in the game include a messenger and a “Fool.”

Future goals are to increase membership and host professional tournaments in association with the United States Chess Federation.

“I am currently going through the certification so I can run tournaments,” Meyers said.

Chautauqua Comics is located at 214 Fairmount Ave. in Jamestown.

For more information contact Greg Myers at 640-8301 or visit Tamerlane Chess Club on Facebook.