Student chess association plans its first move

Noesis is the name of the Eindhoven student chess association currently being set up by four TU/e students; two “thoroughbred corona chess players” and two who have been moving the pieces across the board since they were children. They want an association where every member can come along and play on a regular weekday evening against flesh and blood opponents. "Even losing is more fun when it's offline rather than digital." Noesis will be a cultural association.

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photo Norbine Schalij

Sitting together at a table on the Koeveld is the prospective board of Noesis, here to tell us how and why they want their own chess association. Front right in the photo you can see Tristan Stevens, master's student of Electrical Engineering. He has been a campus regular at TU/e for the past five years and is also a guitarist at student jazz association Studentproof. He is new to the world of chess, “but I did start before the Netflix hit Queens Gambit”. Sitting behind him is Bas van Doren. This bachelor's student of Applied Mathematics has been playing chess for ten years and among his many chess trophies is the cup for winning Zeeland's youth championship.

Front left at the picnic table you can see Joost van Engelen, master's student of EE and Operations Management and Logistics. He calls himself a thoroughbred corona chess player. “Basically, out of pure boredom I bought some books and one of them was ‘Logical Chess’ which explained the game to me move by move. I was hooked and since then there's nothing I'd rather be doing than playing chess.”

At the table back left sits Vincent Schmitz, in his seventh year of his Bachelor's of Applied Physics. He took up chess when he was only six, playing at ’t Pionneke club in Roermond. Like many youth players, his priorities during adolescent did not include chess and now he describes it as a hobby. Having been secretary and president of student squash association ESSRV Quatsh, he has board experience.

This experience is very welcome and perhaps the reason that Schmitz has no well-defined role, but instead acts as head cook and bottle washer, tackling whatever else crops up. This includes reaching out to other chess associations. “Student chess associations are also being founded in Utrecht and Nijmegen,” he says.  

Democratic

The four have created a WhatsApp community by adding each new prospective member drummed up by word of mouth. They now have 43 people, including one woman. “But that's only because we don't know many chess-playing women and my girlfriend doesn't want to join,” says Stevens apologetically. He thinks that as the association, of which he will become the secretary, becomes more widely known, the number of women members will increase. Luckily they have managed to reserve a place at the Green Strip Market (if it goes ahead, during Intro).

In the WhatsApp group not only have the wishes of the potential members been asked, the name Noesis has also been discussed. “We had no fewer than ten options,” says Van Engelen, “but the Greek word for careful thought and logical reasoning appealed to us.” (The word is pronounced like 'oasis'. No-asis, just so you know - ed.)

“So far we have been mainly throwing our arms wide in welcome, to generate enthusiasm and question people,” says Van Engelen, future president of Noesis. “We'll be moving ahead under the flag of Scala, as a cultural association. We have also talked with ESSF, but the fact that as a sports association all the members must have a sports card is something we see as a drawback.”

To encourage membership, Noesis is keen to keep the subscription as low as possible. Future treasurer Van Doren: “We will not be joining the Dutch Chess Federation. This means we can't play in the federation's competition, but we've heard from our likely members that they are not interested in playing matches at the weekend.”

Noesis aims to offer “simply getting together to play, with a beer in hand”. The current fine weather means they can already play in the park, with ad hoc meetups arranged on WhatsApp, but what they really need is a regular evening in the week, with a roof over their heads and beer on tap. The precise form this might take has yet to be discussed with Scala and TU/e. “Once we've got our vision and policy plan down on paper, we'll go to the Chamber of Commerce and a notary public and make the association happen,” says Van Engelen.

Before then, Noesis is making the first move. During the TU/e summer university, they will be hosting a chess for beginners workshop on July 6th.

Anyone interested in the association can use this link to register their interest (no commitment involved). As soon as the paperwork is in order, you will be invited to become a member.

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