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Vermeer Senior Chess Club: Promoting Health, Community, and Plenty of Fun

By Nina Leto Mayleas

If it’s Wednesday at 4:00 p.m., the Vermeer Senior Chess Club is about to meet. Chessboards are lined up, and members take their seats for an interactive chess lecture and demonstration, followed by their own competitive games. Chess, the game of kings, is inspirational, fun, and a bright highlight of the week for an appreciative group of men and women in their 70s, 80s and 90s!

Studies show that to ward off or slow cognitive decline as one ages, making heathy lifestyle choices is critical, as is keeping one’s brain active. Chess has been keeping millions of human brains active for more than 14 centuries.

Each week, the Vermeer Senior Chess Club looks forward to an exciting new technique to sharpen its skills. Moreover, students enjoy the colorful, centuries-old history, and important matches from the rich literature of this preeminent intellectual pastime. At the end of each slate of 12 sessions, the members play a lively quiz game incorporating some of the techniques and reinforcing each student’s learning.

The chess sessions are conducted by Douglas Bellizzi, a chess master and former President of the prestigious Manhattan and Marshall Chess Clubs. Marianna Bellizzi, the only woman to serve as President of the Marshall Chess Club, also contributes her considerable chess experience to the lessons and guided play. Doug and Marianna volunteer their time enabling the chess adventures at the Vermeer at no cost to the members.

The Vermeer Co-Op (77 7th Avenue, between 14th and 15th Streets) with 353 apartments, is home to young professionals, families, and many vital seniors. (I, as a Board Member, established the Senior Committee three years ago.)

The Committee provides an interactive forum and connects people with “buddies” to assist with shopping, accompany neighbors to doctor appointments, and most of all, to have fun. The seniors have enjoyed meetings featuring full English tea parties, the fall cider and doughnuts, a knitting group, and the Chess Club.

The fifth installment of chess education sessions begins on October 4th at 4:00 p.m. There is some space for new players and, no matter if you’re a novice or experienced, we welcome you. Kindly leave a note for the Chess Club at the front desk.

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