For the past 20 years, chess instructor Glenn Davison has found great enjoyment in sharing his knowledge of chess with others. Although he does not live in Falmouth, he recently shared his passion for the game with Upper Cape residents via his online chess courses at the Falmouth Public and West Falmouth libraries.
When asked where his passion for chess began, Mr. Davison recalled fond memories of time spent with his father.
“My father, who was also a chess teacher, taught me how to play at the age of 6,” he said.
While a career with large corporations doing remote and in-person training kept him busy for many years, he wanted to dedicate some of his retirement doing the thing he has loved for most of his life. To Mr. Davison, chess is not a profession but a life’s passion, brought on by his father. Continuing in his footsteps, Mr. Davison now shares his love of chess with the world.
“I remember when he taught me this knight move and I now teach a shortcut to that move,” he said with a soft laugh.
Mr. Davison found the transition to the role of teacher an easy one. Using many of the skills he learned during his years of training, Mr. Davison began packing his car full of heavy chessboards and setting out for long drives to teach. However, when the pandemic hit, Mr. Davison had to call checkmate on teaching in-person courses.
Looking for a way to continue his teaching and having taught remotely previously, Mr. Davison was able to take his popular in-person seminars and convert them into fully online interactive presentations. With quizzes, puzzles and animations, students get a more hands-on learning experience regardless of location. Mr. Davison’s presentation has grown with his audience. He now accepts up to 50 people per course.
Mr. Davison personally contacted a large number of Massachusetts libraries throughout the pandemic looking for interest in learning chess. Both the Falmouth Public and West Falmouth libraries responded with community interest. Mr. Davison is thrilled about the reach he has been able to obtain through his public library outreach.
“I enjoy it. I hope to expand my chess courses out of the state soon,” he said.
His online courses go further than teaching just the basics of chess. Learning some of the history of the game, like how chess relates to George Washington, gives his students a deeper understanding of the game. His presentations allow the viewer to follow along with the action in real time without a chessboard at home. Through situational examples, he pushes newer students to recognize common chess strategies to use in their games. Mr. Davison keeps his participants engaged with frequent questions and provides additional resources to those who wish to push their game beyond his courses.
Mr. Davison showed a particular fondness for how the popular Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” portrays chess. “The show has a scene where the main girl is repeatedly handed chess book after chess book she has already read. It does a good job to show how important reading is to learning the game,” he said.
With a dozen or so classes scheduled for the future, including a set of three lessons for next year at the West Falmouth Library, Mr. Davison thinks that with the rise in the younger generations’ understanding of technology, Zoom courses are here to stay. These courses are a great opportunity for anyone or group, beginner or not, to learn chess.
Mr. Davison, when asked how Zoom has changed his course attendance, said chess is an “intergenerational game, a family activity for all ages.” His Zoom courses have only furthered this thought, having seen grandparents wanting to learn alongside their grandchildren.
“Chess is a great way to connect and you can play remotely,” Mr. Davison said. “Chess was also one of the first games taught online, so there are a lot of resources out there to learn from.”
Mr. Davison is a longtime member of the Massachusetts Chess Association and the US Chess Federation. He is also a kite enthusiast, having published 12 books on the subject.