Strategically, Tim Campbell cannot lose this game of chess; he knows his opponent’s next move. Today, he is playing against himself.
On Tuesday evenings downstairs in Brady Commons, Campbell sits patiently and waits for students to challenge him. It will cost them $10 an hour, but he doesn’t think it’s a high price for developing analytical skills.
“Chess keeps me sharp,” said Campbell, who at 42 has played for more than 30 years. “For me, it’s a way to relax, forcing me to clear my mind.”
Mark Partington, manager of the T.A. Brady’s entertainment area, witnessed Campbell in action at his other job at J. C. Penney’s, where Campbell works as a pricing associate. Partington said he often saw Campbell playing chess with co-workers during breaks.
“Tim was the first person I approached (to teach chess at Brady) because I knew he taught chess before,” Partington said.
Partington said it is another way to bring students into T.A. Brady’s, which includes a bowling alley and arcade. “Our goal is to make it a hangout for students,” Partington said.
Campbell, originally from central Missouri, has picked up extra competition with MU’s chess club for seven years. He also volunteers with the chess club at Cedar Ridge Elementary School.
Some of Campbell’s students have won awards for their skills. Fourth-grader Daniel Shyu recently took first in his division at the Missouri K-12 State Championship. His father, Chi-Ren Shyu, took Daniel to the MU chess club last September and was impressed by Campbell’s teaching skills.
“Tim is one of the top chess players in Columbia,” said Shyu, who has taught at MU for four years. “His coaching style is systematic and efficient.”
Campbell has played in tournaments for 10 years and won two state titles. He is modest about his skills but acknowledges he has developed a knack for teaching.
“I don’t mind losing to help my students learn,” he said. “I like to build their confidence.”
He said he would like to build up the chess community in Columbia and provide a coordination point for local players and teachers.
“I am a dreamer,” said Campbell, an MU alumnus. “I have big dreams of what we can build this into.”
After a few lessons at T.A. Brady’s, Campbell’s main concern is for students to get their money’s worth.
“Chess may take a lifetime to master,” Campbell said, “but not too long to learn.”