Club Affiliate Of The Month: ChessMeet
Caressa Valdueza founder of ChessMeet in New York City

Club Affiliate Of The Month: ChessMeet

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We are thrilled to introduce a new series at Club Affiliate of the Month!

Each month, we will be highlighting a chess club from our club affiliate community and sharing an interview with the club admins to discuss the history of their club, what makes their club special, and how you can connect with their club. We hope this will be an insightful series and may inspire others out there to take initiative with their chess club or start a club. 

Our first Club Affiliate of the Month is ChessMeet founded by Caressa Valdueza just last year in New York City! ChessMeet primarily focuses on adult chess enthusiasts and those eager to learn this wonderful game. The club strives to make chess more accessible. They hold events that are open to people of all backgrounds now multiple times per month across Manhattan. They have also run events for beginners only, women and the LGBTQIA+ community.

What was your inspiration for starting ChessMeet?

In the spring of 2022, I joined a chess tournament and found that I was probably the oldest in the group. After playing against 7 to 10 yr old kids, I could not help but think there must be people within my age range who also want to play in-person or OTB chess. I joined some chess clubs, but the commute was time consuming for myself. Finally, I decided to form my own club and called it ChessMeetNYC on the online platform ChessMeet’s first event took place in September 2022 at Battery Park, NYC. Only two people attended on this day! 

In the full interview Caressa shares how consistency is key when starting a chess club so even the first few weeks having low turnouts did not dissuade her. 

Fast forward to today, we sometimes have so many attendees that we have to place a limit on the RSVPs and have actually had to recently move venues to accommodate the growing demand! 

I also wanted more representation of people like me, queer and female, in the chess world. Most chess clubs then were outside the borough I lived in and far for me. I wanted a chess community in my neighborhood (Upper East) initially so I started ChessMeetNYC. Since then, we have also held events in other parts of Manhattan such as Midtown and East Village. I have also held women's only and LGBTQIA+ chess events.

Speaking of Women’s events, can you share more about your women’s events?

Absolutely. I have hosted women’s chess in different venues in NYC, and I made sure to emphasize that beginners are welcome. One time, I also hosted a chess class for women only. Our guest coach was WIM Mila Zarkovic who joined us remotely from Serbia. We solved puzzles and learned tactics together. In March, I collaborated with Astoria Chess Club founders and organizers, Emily and Julio. They did such a wonderful job connecting with local businesses in their neighborhood as well as organizations such as USCF to support our Women’s event. WGM Jennifer Shahade, who is also USCF’s Women’s Program Director, gave us copies of her books, which were given out as a prize for our trivia game. of course also helped us by giving free diamond memberships to our top winners. The event was held at The Bier and Cheese Collective and was attended not only by women, but also men who were supportive of women in chess. 

ChessMeet teams up with Astoria Chess Club to host a Women’s Chess Night

I loved learning about how you’ve been collaborating with other local chess clubs and beyond. Can you share more on how social media has helped ChessMeet rise so quickly?

Social media is such a great platform to connect with other chess clubs and the audience. I think what really propelled our growth was genuinely supporting other chess communities and tagging them on some of our posts. I have also featured chess founders and clubs on our IG page. I do not limit the posts to the New York chess scene. I also feature clubs in other cities such as Baltimore and Houston. 

It was actually through Instagram that we were noticed by WGM Andree Navrotescu from France. She happened to have a tournament coming up in NYC. She sent me a message asking if there were any events coming up within the dates she’d be in New York and that she would love to attend. I was of course excited. She came to our event in the East Village. She was very friendly and down to earth. She was so nice to play against several of our chess players too.


How has joining the Club Affiliate Program helped ChessMeet grow?

It helped a great deal with visibility and a sense of recognition that we are indeed doing good work in our community.

Would you recommend other clubs join our Club Affiliate Program?

Yes, absolutely. It is a great way to network, learn from other chess leaders, and the differences others are making through chess.

As a club that meets in person, why do you think it's important to have an online presence?

It's good to have an online chess platform as it helps us cross borders and offer our members another way to connect with each other outside OTB events. Our members play the daily chess games on and sometimes talk about their online games when they meet again in person. Through, I was also able to send announcements and promote events!

What tools do your members enjoy the most?

I find that our members like using the discussion board and the daily games. People really want to connect. They also enjoy the puzzles.

Anything else you'd like to share about

I like that is recognizing the chess communities across the globe and offering an amazing platform through which we can connect. I look forward to seeing what lies ahead, and I am very excited about the future of their Club Affiliate Program.

To learn more about ChessMeet and see the full interview click here!

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