PC Chess Club, A Review
*edited after publication*
First, I want to apologize for bringing this drama to the site. However, I feel it is my duty to provide full disclosure in regards to this club and its head. After I quit going, the PC Chess Club founder put up a website about his club (as can be seen in the comments). In that site, joplinchess.org was mentioned in two places and libelous material about me, and in extension, the Joplin Chess Club was posted. That site has since been removed due to that defamation, yet he continues to belittle local players on other sites, though nothing that really is defamation.
In those postings I was called a fraud and cheat, that I need to be on medications and that I’m a fat compulsive eater. He also basically claims he banned me from his club and that I was spying for the Joplin Chess Club while attending, even though I left based on the items in my review. In addition, he claims high attendance at his club when the only one that really went in the past was me and there have been no other people there studying at any point (with one exception).
Based on his actions and the lies he tries to spread I wholeheartedly recommend that all players stay away from the PC Chess Club. Updates to this information can be found on this page (link).
*original review begins here*
I thought I would follow up with a brief review of the club for those that might be interested in attending or for those that want to learn more about the club.
If you are interested keep reading below …
First, I want to preface this with the disclaimer that I am no longer attending the club as of two weeks ago, though I was there a majority of the weeks up until then. Unless there are some changes coming from Michael, the club head/founder, then I likely won’t be participating in any future club meetings.
The club has some promising and useful features. The primary focus is utilizing computers to improve chess competency and level of play. In addition to computer usage, the club has a focus on using chess literature and videos as learning aides. In this pursuit, Micheal has amassed a large collection of chess books covering all phases of the game and has an impressive amount of software and digital content to complement those resources.
Michael also seems to have a decent knowledge of openings, middle game technique, tactics and many endgames, though this is just an impression I had during my many discussions and meetings with him. There is no objective way to measure this impression as he is not a USCF member, i.e. unrated, and the only measure of the skill he has are ones gleaned from claimed ratings tests he said he has done.
The club schedule is laid out for youth to begin at 6 PM and adults at 8 PM. The initial schedule was just from 6-10, with no breakdown. That said, on the nights that I have been able to get there before 8, with the new schedule, I didn’t see anyone there for the club, not even Michael. So I can’t really speak for anything but the later section, however, it appeared to me that nothing was happening prior to 8.
Most nights I was the first one in attendance and Michael would show up sometime after, often after the scheduled 8 PM start time. Other than a few rare occasions, attendance was limited to me and Michael. Generally, Michael would show up, though it was often later than 8:00.
On the majority of nights, no real study was presented. A few weeks had us working through Panolfini’s Endgame Course and a few weeks we worked through some computer database queries on Chessbase and SCID. Most of the time was spent with Michael giving brief overviews of his many books, breezing through discussions on what he plans on doing with the club, and talk about all the materials he has and will be getting. Chess study time was minimal in my view.
I will be the first to say that my time outside the club to study is very limited, therefore, I didn’t do much computer work outside Thursday nights. Those that have more time to work on chess software and study beyond the club may find better benefit. However, my impression is that the club has a long way to go before it becomes a truly useful resource.
While it has a large number of available physical resources, there is a definite lack of planning and structure, leaving much to be desired. In addition, the club doesn’t conform well to the needs of the members. Advanced database techniques and processes are pushed over more fundamental learning techniques. Skill levels are not taken into account when presenting subject matter.
To finish, my list of pro’s and con’s:
- Excellent collection of books on all parts of the game. Many opening and endgame books included.
- Excellent collection of digital resources and software. Large database collections, database software such as Chessbase, and computer chess engines.
- Michael seems to have adequate knowledge of the above resources.
- Doesn’t hold to posted schedules well and often shows up late or not at all
- Unstructured lessons, lack of lesson planning
- Methods of learning don’t take into account the skill levels of the members
- Many nights are spent repeating things from previous nights that are only tangentially related to chess study
- Attitude is often belittling to those that don’t share the same ideals of the club
Overall, I don’t recommend the PC Chess Club unless you are able to deal all of the above. I hope Micheal is able to take all his resources and create a useful structure and sets of lesson plans to benefit chess in the area. At this point he is not there but may be in the future.
I give the PC Chess Club 2 out of 5 passed pawns.