Freeholder Levine Resumes Tournament Against Library Youth Chess Club

Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine shakes hands with an opponent before making his opening move.

After a two-year absence, Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine was once again in the township library on March 12, squaring off against a bunch of kids.

Levine, also the township’s former mayor, went up against 11 members of the library’s chess club in a rotating game. The last time he did this was in December 2014, when he faced half a dozen young opponents.

The layoff may have taken a toll. Unlike his last appearance, halfway through the challenge Levine appeared to be losing two of the games.

“There are two games that the kids are attacking him, that he’s losing,” said Ismael Cartagena, the club’s coach.

“He was not watching and he made a mistake,” he said.

The challengers, aged 7 to 12 years, were set up in a glass-walled room in the library’s children’s section. They were seated around four tables arranged in a square, in the middle of which Levine and Cartagena moved from player to player.

“This is a blast with all the kids,” Levine said. Levine, who has been playing since he was 7 years old, was a high school and conference chess champion when he played competitively.

Playing multiple opponents, he said, forces him to look at just basic strategy, rather than be able to think ahead multiple moves.

“Here, I’m looking at just a couple of moves,” he said.

Levine told the kids and their parents at the beginning of the tournament that playing video games may be good for coordination, “but here, they sit, they think, they concentrate, and I think it gets your brain working in good ways.”

The club meets on the first Monday of each month. Cartagena said the first half-hour is dedicated to playing, then he will teach a lesson based on a a game already played.

“This past Monday was preparation against him,” Cartagena said, pointing to Levine. “I told them, just make him sweat.”


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