During the spring of 2016 Mariah Badikian, student at The University of West Georgia, started the UWG Chess Club.
Badikian, the founder and president of the club, grew up watching her father play chess. This eventually led to her own love for the game, and she went on to join a chess club in elementary school. She stuck with the game and in high school joined the chess club there. Once Badikian started college at UWG, however, she discovered that the university did not already offer a chess club. So, she decided to start her own.
With the help of Dr. Felix Tweraser, former German professor at UWG, and three friends from the Foreign Language and International Relationships Club, Badikian was able to start what is now called The University of West Georgia Chess Club. Badikian could not thank Tweraser enough for his help and support with the club.
“He was so patient,” said Badikian, “He always followed up very quickly. He was one of the main things that helped me keep it together. He really helped take care of us.”
Starting out the club was small, averaging about three people with only two boards to begin with. They were provided by Dr. Eric Dodson, a UWG psychology professor and current chess club faculty advisor.
Last semester, the chess club held their third annual tournament. The tournament had a small outcome, but still made enough money to cover the cost of the trophies. Last semester the chess club held another tournament, which was even more successful than the last.
“We got a couple of donations,” said Badikian. “It was all in all a really good event and so much fun.”
Not only was the club able to generate enough money to cover the price of the trophies, but they were also able to make a small profit. Along with that, Badikian had an elementary school teacher contact her about having the students of her chess club joining the tournament. These were both big steps for the up-and-coming club.
Towards the end of last semester, Badikian said that the chess club was averaging 15 to 18 people per meeting which is huge progress from where they started. The chess club will be holding another tournament late this February. They are hoping for an even better outcome than they had in the tournament last semester.
Badikian has found it difficult to find people to help her with the club. Vice presidents have come and gone but she has stayed through it all. Currently Matthew Elwood, a student at the University of West Georgia, is the Vice President.
“He is honestly the most helpful person,” said Badikian when speaking on Elwood. “Where I don’t have the time sometimes, he does. Up until him really all of my vice presidents have jumped ship on me.”
Through all of the things that have changed within the club; the people, the faculty advisor and the room, one thing remains the same. Mariah Badikian is still the president.