How the world's first 'Chess Rave' sprang up in Trondheim
Gary Andrés Chinga didn’t start playing chess until he was 26 years old, but now he’s founded Fuzzsjakk to use the game to bring people together in weird new ways.
“I don’t like it to be boring and I’m also quite impatient, so I always feel like I need to step up my game.” That’s how Gary Andrés Chinga went from starting a little weekly chess club earlier this year to throwing a full-blown chess rave in just a couple of months... but what the hell is a chess rave?
“When most people hear chess rave they say ‘this sounds awful’ — and that’s perfect!” says Gary and laughs. The concept is relatively simple, get people together to play chess while local DJs get them going on the dance floor. So the event strengthens the underground electronic party scene, but with a socialising chess twist. This bizarre mixture came about because Gary wanted the name to be provoking enough to connect more people, and he’s definitely succeeded on that front.
The first chess rave “only” had around 80 participants — which still sounds like a lot — while the second one at Rockheim was supposed to have 150 people... but more than 300 showed up! Incredible numbers, but also understandable. Even if you have no interest in chess or raves, putting those two words together is weirdly alluring. How did Gary come up with it though?
“I work at REMA 1000 in Elgeseter and meet a lot of people that come there. I started going to parties with groups and we slowly started to add chess into the mix. That’s when I discovered chess and partying go weirdly well together.” When he began organising chess events for the public, he quickly started developing new forms to connect people. So is Trondheim likely the first city in the world to have a chess rave? “Oh yeah, nobody would be crazy enough to do this,” says Gary.
A melting pot of introverts and extroverts
Gary cares deeply about fighting social isolation and wants to help people form connections. He describes himself as a “shy boy” when he was younger, but he eventually realised there was more to life than being one type of person. He moved to Bergen to open up and follow his dream of producing and performing music. When he moved back to Trondheim, he recognised he was a curious mixture of a loner and a hyper-social person — but so were other people. So he began bridging the gap between introverts and extroverts.
“When you’re at a party where people are dancing and having fun, it can be quite lonely if you feel more comfortable staying on the sidelines. Mainly because there are no alternatives. Should I just stand in the corner and scroll on my phone? Adding chess to the party gives added depth to the experience. Now you have a new place to connect and a new dance floor — but on this one, you dance using your mind.”
Gary is continually challenging himself. In addition to further developing the chess raves and the casual chess tournaments at Super Hero Pizza, he’s in talks with yoga teachers and meditation experts to create new events. “I want to help elevate people and help them meet others. Because that’s true happiness, forming connections with others.”
Born to Chilean parents in Trondheim, Gary knows Norwegian people can appear cold and closed off. That's why he started Fuzzsjakk to use chess to create a society for people to get together across languages.
“Many people say our events are like speed-friending, just with a chess board. I love it when we can’t start the next round of a tournament because people are too busy chatting with someone they just met.” Fuzzsjakk has regular tournaments, beginner courses, chess&chill events, and chess raves. If you're curious to know more, you can find further information on the group's official website.
This article first appeared in print in The List Winter issue 2022.
Bonus: King's Gambit
You don’t need to know anything about chess openings to join one of Gary’s events — but he still has a favourite one. “Mine is King’s Gambit. It’s extremely aggressive and basically a YOLO opening. I love it and play it every time... even if it usually ends up badly.” He also adds it’s really fun to see how people open because it often reflects their personality.
The King’s Gambit begins with moving the pawns in front of the king and the bishop two spaces. This makes the player’s king vulnerable and offers a pawn sacrifice. Super risky, but if you survive the beginning (which you probably won’t), you might achieve a fearsome all-out attack.