On August 4th, 2014, former Swedish sports journalist Robert Okpu started the Hua Hin Chess Club at the Dacha Restaurant on Soi 94. ”I came to Hua Hin for the first time four years ago and read somewhere that there had been a chess club here called Domino. When I came back in March last year for a long stay, I did not find any chess club. Finally I contacted Konstantin Lepekhin, owner of the Dacha Restaurant, and suggested that we start one.” ”My father is Nigerian and I was actually part of the team that won the Nigerian University Team Championships in 1988. But I stopped playing in the nineties due to work constraints and I was sure there would be some other ‘rusty expats’ in Hua Hin with a similar interest in chess,” says Robert.
The Hua Hin Chess Club is free and open to all. ”We play blitz, rapid and so called bughouse chess, with or without clocks from 4 pm every Monday. We have had players from Britain and Ireland, Belgium, France, Holland, Russia and Scandinavia. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find Thai players. I know most Thais prefer the ‘makruk’ version to western chess. But there are strong Thai western chess players in Bangkok and other places in Thailand, so there should be some good Thai players in Hua Hin as well,” says Robert.
Currently, the only junior player who plays regularly in the Hua Hin Chess Club is a nine year-old, but chess is also now available in Hua Hin for kids as beginners. ”Some months after opening, we were contacted by Binita Shah, an Indian lady who runs the Indo Western Institute of Cultural Arts (IWICA) in Bangkok since 2008. IWICA has now started a chess academy in Hua Hin. A summer camp started in March and there is a 12-session IWICA course for beginners running at the Sirada Learning Centre on Petchkasem Road.” Anyone looking to join the Hua Hin Chess Club or with enquiries about the chess academy for kids can contact Robert on telephone: 0926 595 305.