New Bern Noble Knights Chess Club Host Its First Tournament

New Bern Noble Knights Chess Club logo

With just 12 weeks of instruction under their belts, the New Bern Noble Knights Chess Club is hosting its first chess tournament. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 9th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at West New Bern Recreation Center on Pinetree Drive. The public is welcome to attend.

The New Bern Noble Knights Chess Club was launched earlier this year by the New Bern Police Department. The department wanted to host a free program that would help build and maintain strong relationships with middle school aged youth while having fun at the same time. The club was designed to offer 12 weeks of coaching, mentoring, and team building alongside police department staff and an internationally-certified chess instructor. All skill levels were welcome to join and parents were encouraged to accompany their kids through the program so they could play chess together at home.

The instructor, Nolan Tomboulian, taught the kids basic moves up through intermediate and skilled levels of play. The first meeting was held January 24th at the New Bern Police Department substation at the New Bern Mall. But the group quickly outgrew the facility when nearly two dozen kids and their parents showed up on the very first night, so the meeting location moved to West New Bern Recreation Center. The club met every Monday from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

As the kids learned how to play and develop new strategies, they faced off against police officers who have a competitive spirit all their own. “I don’t like to lose and I have no plans to,” said Officer Russell in a YouTube video announcing the chess club program. Officer Russell and a handful of other police department staff attended each meeting, polishing their skills and learning who they were up against. “When an 11 year-old challenges you to a game of chess and wins….it is quite humbling,” said Chief Patrick Gallagher of the New Bern Police Department. “These kids caught on quickly and asked great questions. You could see their curiosity and confidence growing with each meeting. We are lucky to know them and hope to continue building a relationship with them.” Each youth enrolled in the program went home with a chess set to keep thanks to the club’s sponsor, Trent Buick GMC.

This weekend, the New Bern Noble Knights will host a chess tournament. Through sponsorships from the New Bern Police Department Citizen Volunteers and Trent Buick GMC each Noble Knight participant will receive a polo shirt. The top winners in the beginner, intermediate and skilled groups will also receive a medal.

“We’ve had a lot of fun and have established great partnerships with these kids and their families,” said Chief Gallagher. “But ultimately, we hope to build upon the success of the Noble Knights Chess Club. We’re hoping there are other chess players and clubs out there who will play along with us and help us grow our tournament circuit.”

The New Bern Police Department plans to offer the next 12-week session of the Noble Knights Chess Club beginning in August 2022. Interested participants should complete an application. More information, applications and other documents can be found at their website.

By Colleen Roberts, Public Information Officer, City of New Bern