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Ossining Residents Take the Chess Challenge

OSSINING, N.Y. – Rich Brown said he’s always looking for a challenge, and Gervonnie Jones wanted to try something new.

Both the 48-year-old Brown and the 18-year-old Jones found what they were looking for Tuesday afternoon in the second floor conference room of the Ossining Public Library .

Despite an age difference of 30 years, the two found a link in the centuries old game of chess. The library at 53 Croton Ave. hosts chess from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays.

“I’ve only been playing a year but I really like learning about it,” said Jones, an Ossining High School student. “I didn’t do as well as wanted but I learned a lot.”

The library’s weekly game used to hold the interest of dozens of local youth, said Teen Services leader Suzy Zavarella. The program, which started in February 2008, drew so many students that library staff was able to take a few dozen youth to see IBM’s Watson supercomputer. But waning participation led to a suspension of the weekly game. Zavarella, who helped bring chess back to the library in October 2011, says interest is beginning to grow and the game isn’t going away anytime soon.

“We’ll get anywhere from three to 20 people on any given week,” Zavarella said. “It’s here to stay because I want to give our local students and our residents something fun and challenging and that’s chess.”

For Zavarella, the game offers a unique combination people can’t find in sporting events or most other competitive games.

“You don’t have to have ability to play chess,” Zavarella said. “You just have to have the desire to challenge yourself. And it’s a great way to do something intellectual and social at the same time and that’s something our kids don’t get in a lot of other places.”

The fun, intellectual challenge is what Brown said keeps him coming back to the game.

“I’ve played it for years because there’s nothing quite like it,” Brown said, adding a piece of advice to all new students of the game. “Occupy and control the center. I could give more away, but that’s the big one right there.”

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