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FH Chess Club welcomes new members

Posted 9/28/23

For chess players like Paul Crumbie, someone could burn down the building that he’s playing chess in and he wouldn’t blink an eye, so says the former Jamaican junior chess champion of his …

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FH Chess Club welcomes new members

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For chess players like Paul Crumbie, someone could burn down the building that he’s playing chess in and he wouldn’t blink an eye, so says the former Jamaican junior chess champion of his lifelong passion.

Paul Crumbie and his wife, N’Marie, are the faces of the Fountain Hills Chess Club, a local gathering of new and not-so-new chess players to enjoy an evening of strategy, comradery and education.

Free and open to the public, the Fountain Hills Chess Club meets every Tuesday at Batchelor’s Pad BBQ at 5:30 p.m., where chess is played over beer and brisket.

Boasting over 50 members, Crumbie invites anyone interested in the game of chess to join the club regardless of age or experience.

“We have a few seven-, eight- and nine-year-olds and our oldest member is in their mid-90s,” Crumbie said, who has several beginning chess players in the club, intermediate players and one grandmaster with a chess rating of 2300.

From rook to king

“I started playing chess in high school in Jamaica,” Crumbie said, who was sent to detention one day as a freshman in high school.

“In detention, there was a couple of guys that were playing this game...they told me it was chess and they taught me a few moves,’” Crumbie said, who was soon visiting his school chess club three times a week.

By the end of the school year, Crumbie was ranked second in his high school. For his remaining high school years, Crumbie was named “Schoolboy Champion” and went on to become the national junior champion for Jamaica during his senior year.

Not long after being crowned national champion, Crumbie traveled to Colombia to represent Jamaica in the world junior championship during a time when Pablo Escobar was a prominent figure in Colombia.

“Being a young teenager, it was a bit terrifying,” Crumbie said of his time in Colombia, remembering the guards with weapons present at the tournament, but he looks back with pride as a young chess champ representing his country. Crumbie placed well in Colombia, and by the time he moved to the U.S., he had a chess rating of 1900, just a few rankings below a grandmaster.

Crumbie moved to Fountain Hills in 2010 and has focused his chess efforts on teaching the youth the intricate game of chess. His goal is to start a chess club at Fountain Hills High School in hopes of training young chess players to enter nationwide tournaments. He has already been approached by a private school in Scottsdale to start a chess club there.

“We want to have fun and we want the kids to enjoy it as well, but we don’t want them to look at it as a chore,” Crumbie said, who still plays on his 45-year-old chess set that he used as a young boy during the international tournament.

As the summer wanes and snowbirds return, Crumbie is excited to expand the chess club and possibly enter its members in their very first tournament by the end of the year.

“I know there are a lot of good players out there and a lot of folks who used to play before and players who have never played before but want to get involved,” he said. “We’re just trying to grow the club, get it on the map and just be something else that the town of Fountain Hills can be proud of.”

For more information about the Fountain Hills Chess Club, visit its Facebook page at Facebook.com/groups/fountainhillschessclub where Paul and N’Marie Crumbie post daily puzzles, articles and anything else going on in the world of chess.

Batchelor’s Pad BBQ is located at 13407 N. La Montana Drive.