Race to All-Marine Chess Team begins

10 Jan 2012 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

While chess players aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have many opportunities to play the game through the Single Marine Program’s annual chess season, which began in October 2011 and runs through February, there are some exciting opportunities coming for those who wish for more of a challenge.

With the MCB Camp Lejeune Base Chess Championship approaching, players will be able to test their skills at the game against other Marines. They also have the possibility of being able to earn a spot on the All-Marine Chess Team.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with the base championship is find Marines that might be interested in the All-Marine Chess Team so that we can get them prepared to submit a resume and get them on the team,” said Sara Walsh, an activities programmer with the Single Marine Program aboard the base.

Walsh is a chess enthusiast who has played throughout her youth and has won numerous tournaments. Her office is full of pictures and posters of chess players and she even keeps a grand chess board on hand for quick lessons and demonstrations. She pours her enthusiasm into her mission to make sure the All-Marine Chess Team is full.

“A lot of my players are retiring, have recently gotten out of the Marine Corps or are about to get out,” said Walsh. “They aren’t coming back to play this year, so I would really like to find some new Marine chess players who are enthusiastic about playing and being competitive."

After acquiring six members, the team will play in the Inter Services Chess Tournament, where different branches of the military go head to head against one another in a weeklong series of matches.

“The games can get intense and grueling,” said Walsh. “But I know the Marines love them.”

One or more Marines from the team, along with members of the other services will be invited to represent the United States at the 23rd NATO Chess Championship, which will be held in France later this year.

In order to gain a spot on the team they will have to submit an application. Further details on what is needed will be given in a future Marine Administrative Message.

Walsh is looking for enthusiastic service members who can drum up interest for the game within the base. 

Walsh said if a Marine can master chess, it would make him or her a better war fighter. Indeed, since a recruitment advertisement in the past depicted Marines as warriors on a chess field.

She encourages Marines of all skill levels to play in the championship tournament.

“If you love chess, I don’t care how good you are,” said Walsh. “So long as you fight your heart out, we can train you to be better.”