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Laurelton chess club hopes to stage tourney for Queens

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"Any night now I'm going to be over the maximum," young adult librarian and club instructor Tom Amtamoros said of the program's popularity. "Every week it grows."While the Laurelton branch, located on 225th Street just south of Merrick Boulevard, had a chess club years ago, it petered out after its leader died. The current incarnation began in December after Assistant Branch Manager Michael Bryce suggested using the game to engage students with a free and constructive activity, a goal which Youth Counselor Lambert Shell had been working on.In the early going, the club only had 15 to 20 members and eight chess sets, with the library adding several more boards as the roster increased. However, when the list grew to more than 117 names, the branch realized it needed more equipment. Jeany Persaud, a member of the branch's advisory board, contacted the X-Ryders, a southeast Queens group of Ford Expedition enthusiasts active in the community, and they presented the Laurelton Library with 30 sets Saturday after parking their SUVs out front."We just wanted to give back to the group," member Gregory Highland of St. Albans said. "We wanted to start by dealing with the libraries."Shell and Branch Manager Daniel Nkansah said they have been pleased with the chess club and have contacted the Queens Central Library in Jamaica about setting up clubs at other branches and then establishing a boroughwide tournament, possibly with sponsorship help from the X-Ryders."We're in the process of moving that forward," Shell said. "It's one of the best programs we have going on here."At the Laurelton Branch, Amtamoros said the club, which meets Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., had even started to attract a few older players, with members ranging in age from a few 6-year-olds to a couple of 30- and 40-year-olds."They play well together," he said of his diverse group, noting that he tries to set novice players up with a more skilled mentor. Many of the club's members are relative newcomers to the game, and Amtamoros hopes to soon move from helping them master the rules to devising strategy."That comes with experience," he said.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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