Pawns for Adventure

From A Simple Game to a Lifelong Flames


Jillian Parks

Earlier this month I put out a call for help in gathering information about the Chess Club here at CP. 

“Ever heard of Chess Night?” senior Parker Briney said. “It’s a secret society run by me… Is that what you are talking about?”

No, it certainly was not. To my dismay, what I was seeking no longer exists. But Chess Night does, and it might be just as good. 

“One time after Chipotle me and a bunch of dudes sat around wondering how we were going to spend the rest of our night,” Briney said. “We decided to go to my house. Next thing we knew, epic classical music was blaring in a pitch black room. A single desk lamp was suspended over a Han dynasty chess set, dimly illuminating the center of the arena.”

Seems simple enough to me. A tradition started sophomore year where a bunch of guys play chess. However, the enthusiasm of the founder and the number of participating members had me thinking it might be more. Especially in terms of its evolution. 

“The society then developed into an intellectual gentlemen’s club,” Briney said. “Podcasts were held in which members debated theology, politics, technology, existential philosophy, social issues, and, of course, conspiracy theories.” 

Then began what these boys referred to as the “construction phase.” Cutting down trees, lighting tiki torches, a half gallon of gasoline, and, according to very reliable sources, a fire 9 feet in the sky all to fuel a bonfire in a homemade fire pit. 

“After a while, Chess night evolved into a gasoline based bonfire that we ignite with projectiles such as a flaming bow and arrow, and even a flaming spear,” senior Nick Vetere said. “We take pride in making our fires bigger and more explosive every night with gasoline and the layout of our fire pit that we built.”

What? Chess Night plus fire when chess is no longer stimulating? The more people that responded to my questions, the more layers of confusion were added to my perception of this club-that-isn’t-a-club. While the membership is male-only, a few females have joined their ventures. 

“Chess night seemed full of intellectual thoughts, and I wanted to experience that for myself,” senior Robyn Kowalski said. “Parker has this huge fire pit built in his backyard, and it’s very nice to be able to sit around it in the winter time while engaging in stimulating conversation. Overall it’s just a fun time that you get to experience with likeminded people.”

Sometimes the group leaves the fire pit and takes part in “wilderness expeditions.” One of the most significant of these explorations resulted in a snake attack that sent the men back to the safety of the camp. However, because there was testosterone involved, a speech was given,  inspiring a second assault into the darkness. They literally killed the snake and celebrated with an avocado. With more vengeance than the snake, the avocado sent Briney to the ER for stitches after either a lack of depth perception or an overzealous use of a kitchen knife. 

“The avocado symbolizes a brother who was not paying attention and ended up paying for it,” senior Mark Bruner said. “Killing the snake was a unique bonding experience for us all.”

However, all good things must come to an end, and with college right around the corner, the Chess Boys are being forced to go their separate ways. The men are revving up for their final adventure through the Colorado Wilderness. Whether this is classified as a simple vacation or an epic last hurrah is up to interpretation. 

“After college I’m sure we’ll all come back during break and see a text, ‘Chess Night?’” senior Regan Palazzesi said. “No one chess night is the same, and chess night will hold great memories for me.” 

The takeaway from this story is not to start fires or throw spears or kill snakes. It’s to reminisce on the memories the seniors have made throughout high school. Homecoming, junior prom, senior lighting, and maybe even senior prom were taken from the Class of 2021, but each senior’s personal traditions and memories are what makes these four years worth remembering. 

“Unfortunately for college we all are going our separate ways but the Chess night guys will forever have these memories and will be there for each other,” Vetere said.