Narada Culpepper is the founder of the Model City Chess Club. The club meets every Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon at Catalyst, 1224 Noble St. in Anniston. All skill levels are welcome, and there is no fee to join the club. “Everybody should play chess,” Culpepper said, “because you can learn a lot about life by playing chess.”
Are you originally from the Anniston area?
I was born in Columbus, Ohio, and my family moved here because my dad was in the Army. He was sent here when I was in kindergarten. … I moved to the south suburbs of Chicago with my dad. I was an artist throughout high school, and I was in the band and played percussion instruments. I played basketball and football. Once I graduated high school, I joined the Army and served five years as a medic. When I got out of the military, I did not know what I wanted to do, but I knew I did not want to work in medicine. I moved back here when I got out of the military because my mom and sister were still here.
What occupation were you drawn to?
I wanted to work in information technology. I became a field computer technician through a self-study program that Dell had. … I started dabbling in music production, so I started taking music classes. I already knew music theory, but I wanted a refresher. I opened up a business in Chicago with some of my old friends: a call center selling ADT alarm systems.
How is living here as an adult different from your experience here as a child?
Since I moved back here, I have learned to appreciate a lot of the stuff I did not appreciate when I was younger. This is a beautiful area, especially the mountains, and we are so close to anywhere you want to travel: Memphis, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, anywhere. Anniston is beautiful: the old buildings and the statues up and down Quintard Avenue. Being a photographer, I pay more attention because I am looking for things to photograph. I have a lot more appreciation for Anniston since I moved back.
When did you start playing chess?
(I was in my early 20s) when I was introduced to chess, and I really liked it. The only problem is that there were not a lot of people my age who played chess, and the thing about chess is that once you start playing, you need to keep playing to build up your skills and keep on top of your strategy. I went years without playing, and my chess game went downhill.
Explain the game of chess to us.
The basic point of chess is to capture your opponent’s king. There are different ways to do it. There are 64 squares on a chessboard, so there are only so many moves you can make, even though there are a lot of moves. Chess is a game of pattern, like playing football; the offense and defense read each other. There are three stages of the game: the opening, the middlegame and the endgame. Each stage of the game is crucial. Some people are good openers but do not know what to do in the middle of the game, and some people start off slow but have a great endgame. A good chess player can see that and make countermoves. When I lose, I am not mad, because I look at the lessons in the game. One time, I was pretty much winning the game and got overconfident; I made one bad move, and it cost me the game. Chess is really psychological; it is more than just moving pieces. Sometimes you make sacrifices. You might sacrifice a bishop or a knight if you can see two or three moves ahead.
What skills can someone learn playing chess?
Critical thinking, problem-solving skills and pattern recognition. It also helps your memory because you memorize certain formations on the board.
How expensive of a hobby is chess?
Not expensive at all; you can get into chess on a shoestring budget. You can get some chess boards for $9-$12.
What is the No. 1 mistake most people make when playing chess?
They do not think before they move.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at email@example.com.