Checkmate

By Claire Golden

As we enter Wave 2 of Lockdown, we are also entering a new wave of boredom. Animal Crossings: New Horizons isn’t new and exciting anymore, cooking has grown dull, and the shorter days are making it harder to get outside for exercise. I found myself in need of a new hobby, and discovered it through a Netflix show that lots of people have been binge watching: The Queen’s Gambit.

Perhaps you’re a fan of this Netflix original series too – the story of a young girl who becomes one of the greatest chess players in the world while struggling with substance abuse. It drew me in from the first episode and stuck with me after the end. It also inspired me to start playing chess again. 

Not to sound too cool or anything, but I was part of the homeschool chess club in middle school. So I already knew how to play, as did my roommates, who were also inspired by the show to rediscover chess. I ordered a magnetic chess board for the princely sum of $13 and we all waited eagerly for it to arrive. When it did, we tore open the package, set up the pieces…and I proceeded to be absolutely decimated in my first game.

I’m not particularly good at chess. But it doesn’t matter. I just enjoy the process of planning out my next move, looking for counterattacks, and attempting to protect my own pieces. After learning that the middlegame is my weak point, I read some articles on middlegame theory and won the next game. Then I told my boyfriend what I learned and he won the next one. And so on. It’s fun playing against him and we have chess matches while we’re cooking dinner and waiting for the oven to preheat.

Chess has a surprising benefit for me: While I’m playing, I can’t think about anything else. I have severe anxiety and am pretty much constantly worrying, but there isn’t time for that when you’re trying to plan out your next moves. A game of chess takes us about 30 minutes to an hour, and for that length of time, my mind is occupied. And after the game, I’m mentally tired, which means my brain doesn’t have as much energy to worry. 

I certainly didn’t expect a Netflix show to be so beneficial for me and my roommates, but it has been. COVID-19 might be winning right now, but we just have to tough it out a while longer, and I’m confident that we will come out on top. And for right now? Chess is helping keep my anxiety at bay. Unexpected, but I’ll take it.

Blazer Break

nc1 By: Naela Cabrera

Have you ever walked through the buzzing halls of the Moda Center during a Portland Trail Blazer game night? It’s madness, but it’s exhilarating! Over the last two terms, my friends and I have been taking advantage of the Blazers Student Pass, which gives college students access to last-minute Blazer tickets at prices as low as $10.

My partner and I spent Valentine’s Day watching the Blazers as they took on the Golden State Warriors. Coolest Valentine’s date ever — and no, it wasn’t because Steph Curry was there, but that was a bonus. The week prior, we also took advantage of $10 tickets through Campus Rec’s “Night at the Blazers” event, hosted by the Intramural Sports Program. Campus Rec hosts this event yearly, and it comes with the opportunity to meet other Blazer fans around campus. Plus they host a pre-game food party. What student doesn’t love free food — am I right?

To be honest, I know hardly anything about basketball but I still enjoy it. I’m a strong believer that you don’t have to be a full-on basketball know-it-all to enjoy a game. Just a couple of friends, a short streetcar ride, good food/drinks and some exciting rivalry between the teams is all you need.

Between the stressful long weeks of studying, exams, work, meetings, etc., we all need a little Blazer break sometimes.

 

Wim for the Win!

blog1 (1) By: Xylia Lydgate

For those of you who don’t know, Wim Wiewel is the president of Portland State University. He took a break from the office on May 6 and walked over to the Urban Plaza to play a round of kickball at Campus Rec’s Pride Kickball event.

I’d had the opportunity to meet with Wim before at a fancy lunch in the president’s office with my fellow Pacific Islanders Club. Turns out he’s a very mellow, down-to-earth guy with a kind sense of humor.

While a bunch of us were standing around outside, soaking up some sun and enjoying the festivities of Pride Week, I noticed the president appear, walking towards our makeshift “field.”

“Is that the president?” someone exclaimed. I glanced over and knew it was him. “Look, it’s Wim!” I could see all of the Campus Rec staff and students pulling out their smartphones, “snapchatting” photos of our PSU celebrity guest.

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The faces of our players lit up as they watched the president join in for a game of kickball in his suit and tie and make a run for home base.

The greatest part about Campus Rec and Portland State is the sense of pride we have in our community and the fun we have together regardless of status or self-identity. It’s moments like this that remind me why I play. When the stress of college and being an “adult” catch up to me, I remember to play, have fun and unleash my inner child