Ahead of the Club’s inaugural Chess Night this month, one Member discusses her lifelong love of the game.
Krisztina Geosits’ passion for chess started with an electronic version of the game in the early 1990s.
Endorsed by the Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov, it was an innovative piece of tech for its time.
“I played the game often when I was around 10, many times a day for years. It was a ritual and I got hooked,” recalls Geosits. “One day, I beat the computer, and that was an inflection point. At first, I thought it was a glitch, but it didn’t matter. I felt it was such a great skill set to continue building on, and it’s quite addictive once you get started.”
She progressed to sentient opponents in her native New York, including ranked players. She would sometimes sit down to casual matches with master chess players at venues around the city, and she played at the New York Athletic Club.
As the Internet has grown to become a part of our everyday lives, so has the number of online chess resources (Geosits says she mainly plays online now)—the latest evolution of a game that is more than 1,000 years old. Exactly when chess was invented is up for debate, but a piece of ivory suspected to be from a chess set dating back to 465 was unearthed in Albania in 2002.
“Chess is so deeply rooted and evolves over time,” the Club Member says. “Pieces have had different powers or moves. The role of the queen, in particular, changed in such a way that mimicked events taking place in various parts of the world.”
One example of that was when Queen Isabella of Castile, in what is now modern-day Spain, was crowned in 1475. The piece that was referred to as the ferz, Persian for counselor, became the queen. But it could only move one square diagonally. By 1495, when Isabella was the most powerful woman in Europe, the queen was able to move in all directions.
Following the pandemic-triggered chess boom (Chess.com recorded 1.5 million new subscribers in April 2020) and the huge success of the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” in 2020, Geosits says it is a “fantastic time…to reintroduce [chess] to people and create awareness around the game.”
To that end, she hopes this month’s Chess Night will become a regular event for adult players of all levels. She would also like to see the game grandmaster Simon Williams describes as transcending “language, age, race, religion, politics, gender and socioeconomic background” continue to attract young minds.
“For families with younger kids—especially young girls—to be exposed to the game will give them great tools, including strategic thinking, which apply to all aspects of daily life,” says Geosits, who enjoys introducing chess to young people. “And, in general, it’s just a great way to socialize with people in a different capacity.”
March 17 | 6:30–8pm
Words: David McElhinney
Top Image of Krisztina Geosits: Kayo Yamawaki