Three men looked on while two others played a quick game of chess at the Columbia County Library on Saturday.
They quietly teased each other and laughed a little, whispering throughout the game. One stretched and went to get coffee as the game broke.
The jovial mood in that sunny spot near the bookshelves was a stark contrast to the serious atmosphere in the next room during the CSRA Summer Open.
That’s the difference between competitive chess and casual chess, said Adam Shaw, the president of the Chess Players of Augusta.
Casual games are quicker and require less concentration.
“The games are usually much closer, much more competitive. The casual games, you don’t put a lot of effort into sometimes,” he said.
The club holds a tournament at least every three months. It is sanctioned by the U.S. Chess Federation. The tournaments give players an opportunity to improve their ranking in the federation.
Shaw said he prefers the intensity of the competitive game, but as an organizer, he did not play Saturday.
Club member Ethan Winter won his first-round game and was the highest-ranked player in the club at the start of the tournament. He said he prefers a more relaxed, casual game.
The 20-year-old has played chess all his life and feels he’s hit a plateau. He said to improve he would need to devote at least four hours a day to studying chess, and for him, that would take the fun out of it.
“I just use (chess) as a way to socialize and a way to get to know people,” he said.
The Chess Players of Augusta meets every Tuesday at the library.