Charlotte Chess Club Continues to Flourish after 44 years!
By NM Leland Fuerstman
Every Wednesday evening, a cornucopia of adult USCF rated chess players from many origins and walks of life converge upon the mental jousting arena that is McAlister's Deli on Park Rd. Chess is war. A mental war that each player attempts to win. If you can't win, you try to Draw. If you can't Draw, you lose. Oh, it's not like losing a finger or a toe... no, it's far worse! When you win, you gain rating points. When you lose, the unspeakable occurs and your rating goes down. The Charlotte Chess Club has 4 sections of competition. Top Section for Masters, Experts and Class "A" Players, "B," "C," and Lower Section generally reserved for lower rated players, inexperienced beginners and newcomers. The Classes are 200 points apart. If your rating reaches 2200, you have earned the Title of National Master. A title which is sought by many, but achieved by few.

A couple of months ago, a diminutive but distinguished gentleman by the name of Ben Fortner approached me at the club and indicated that he wished to become a member ($25 per year) and participate in tournament competition. So, I promptly signed him up and included him in the mix. Because of his inexperience, he seemed a bit nervous in his first few games and appeared to be rushing himself. No one wants to lose. And, apparently, Ben is not the type who gives up easily. I set him aside and suggested that since he had 75 minutes to complete all of his moves, he deliberate a bit longer before responding so quickly. I like a quick study. As the weeks went by, Ben finally won his first USCF rated tournament game! The world loves a happy face! Then, we didn't see him for a few weeks. I subsequently found out that he had been teaching kids chess at his church on Wednesday evenings! But, surely enough, when our next tournament began, Ben entered the building. With a provisional rating of only 772, for 5 consecutive weeks, he proceeded to defeat players with ratings of 808, 899, 980, 1219 and 959 to finish Clear 1st Place in the Lower Section with a perfect 5-0. In doing so, he gained 297 precious rating points in one event! New rating 1069!

Now, has anything like this ever happened before at the CCC. Sure, it has. Over the years, we have experienced a number of anomalies with talented new players. Then, what's so special about registering a perfect score in the Lower Section of the Charlotte Chess Club tournament? Well, I'll tell you. Ben Fortner is 91 years old!! Drives himself to the club every week... havin' a ball at the CCC!