Thirty seconds are left on the clock, and Bunbury Chess Club president Michael Molenaar has a strong advantage over ex-president Ben Coleman.
"I should win this game 99 times out of 100."
But there's a flaw in Molenaar's strategy, and Coleman is well positioned to exploit it. With just a few pawns and a knight, Coleman only needs to make two more moves to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
But he's out of time.
Long before Warhammer or Battletech, wargamers have battled it out for hundreds of years on the chess board. Now the ultimate game of strategy is picking up steam in Bunbury.
The club lay dormant for a decade before it was picked up by Molenaar and Coleman. Over the past 18 months, it's gone from a handful of people playing once a month, to dozens of local players gathering weekly at local games shop Beyond Games for big tournaments, and more casual matches.
"This year, it's kind of going crazy. I don't know why," Molenaar said.
"It's very popular on Youtube now. Last year, the biggest chess youtuber maybe had 50,000 subscribers. Now the best one's got over 2 million."
Molenaar said he has been playing chess for four years now. He made the transition from more modern wargames after seeing live streams online. While he's one of the club's top players, he still considers himself a relative newbie.
"I've barely scratched the surface. There's so many subtleties to the game.
"There's hundreds of different opening moves and strategies that you can do. Infinite amounts of traps. There's so much to learn."
The club is in the middle of an eight week tournament - one of their two major events of the year. But they regularly host beginners sessions, coached by master player Dylan Iwach, who boasts a rating of 2000. For reference, Grandmasters sit around the 2500-2700 mark, and a decent beginner might have a rating of 700.
Molenaar said a few good games in the beginner sessions have led many down a deep rabbit hole into a new favourite hobby.
"If people haven't been to the club before, they don't have to pay any tournament fees. They can come down and see if they like it."
"It's very addictive. It's all I think about. You'll go to sleep thinking about chess."- Michael Molenaar
While you can get lost in the endless strategies of chess, Molenaar said there are three basic principles that, if you can get the hang of them, will put you well beyond the average kitchen table player in no time.
"Control the centre, castle your king, and develop your knights and bishops in the central squares."
Castling is a special once-per-game move where you can jump your king two squares in one turn, essentially hiding him in the corner, protected by a rook and some pawns.
A big mistake Molenaar said rookies often make is to get the queen in the game too early, tempted by the prospect of letting her run wild on the battlefield.
"I did it when I was a kid. It's the most powerful piece, why would you leave it at home?
"It turns out that it's so powerful that whenever something attacks it, it has to run away."
From those basic principles, you can branch into Queen's Gambits, Sicilian Defences, and short term tactics to take out high value pieces. If you want to try it out, the Bunbury Chess Club meets at Beyond Games every Thursday night from 6pm. You can sign-up through their website at bunburychessclub.com.
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