Chess Club Courtesy of Daniel Cruz

Montclair native, Daniel Cruz, creates the Montclair Chess Club in hopes of community engagement to raise awareness about this club.

Master the strategic game of chess with the Founder and Coordinator, Daniel Cruz! 

montclair chess club
Photo courtesy of Daniel Cruz.

Are you intrigued by the game of chess? Curious to learn how to maneuver the sixteen pieces around to capture the opposing pieces according to precise rules? Visit Daniel Cruz’s Montclair Chess Club meetings every Tuesday from 6:30 – 9:30 P.M. The meetings are held at 73 Pine Street and are open to all ages with light refreshments. Children within the ages of 7 to 13 years old are welcomed to the after school lessons at 4 P.M. and 5 P.M. For beginner adults, there are lessons at 7 P.M.

For more information contact Daniel Cruz at or 201-563-0961. Luckily, I had the honor of conducting an interview with Cruz.

Q: What’s your purpose/position to the Montclair Chess Club? How did you get involved? How long have you been active for this organization?

A: My position is the founder/coordinator of the Club. After teaching chess for a number of years throughout the town I remembered how back when I was in Middle School there used to be a meetup every Thursday evening at the Montclair Public Library to play chess.  Since that event stopped, there hasn’t been a place for the “chessheads” of Montclair to come out and play. Therefore I took it upon myself to start it up again. As a very young club, only a month into its inception, my hope is for this to be  both a consistent location to come and play the game as well as an event for the local community to take part in.

Q: What are your fondest memories of the Montclair Chess Club?

A: My fondest memory of the chess club was about two weeks ago. I had posted flyers around town, spoken to some of the locals, and done as much as I thought I could to spread the word. About an hour into the club nobody had shown up and I was beginning to get disheartened, sitting in the studio all by lonesome with the artworks’ somber energies creeping over me.  Then, a group of 7 guys ranging from the local neighborhood kids to Verona came over with their chessboards and got to playing. It gave me great satisfaction and hope that in continuing my due diligence that I can make the club succeed.

Q: What is your advice to those interested in learning the craft of chess?

A: The best advice is to just get out there and play games, either in person, on your phone with the “Play Magnus” app, or Play, play, play! When it comes to chess, getting better doesn’t get any easier the older you get. When I set up a table at the farmer’s market I always find that the children are so courageous in playing the game and the grown-ups are total wimps! Kids don’t care about winning and losing, they just want to move pieces and have fun. I can’t tell you how many times ego comes in the way of adults trying to learn the game let alone improve, they’re afraid that losing is some sort of reflection on their intelligence or something. It’s just a game! Trust me, If chess was a reflection of how smart you are then I wouldn’t be losing to 10 year olds in a 4 day long tournament where I could be winning 2 grand.

montclair chess club
Photo courtesy of Daniel Cruz.

Q: Do you believe Montclair is a great place to live, work, and play? 

A: Absolutely. As a Montclair High School graduate I remember MHS having some great teachers and full of quality After school programs from sports, arts, science, and social justice.  There are many opportunities for young people to work in the many restaurants and other small business this town has and we are just a train or bus ride away from Hoboken or NYC. Most of the work I’ve done in my young adult life has been a 20 minute bike ride away from home. With several open mics, jazz shows, cafe’s, church street, the wellmont theatre, and art galleries, there’s always something to do here on the weekends. If we could get a dance club and something like Rascal’s back in town I think this town would have it all.

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