New campus clubs offer chances to read and play

Bored? Tired of lounging around campus with nothing to do? Looking for something to fill up your gigantic blocks of free time? Check out these developing Swarthmore clubs to beat back that weekday boredom.

Shogi Club
The Swarthmore College Shogi Club was founded in 2004 by Associate Professor of Philosophy — and 2008 U.S. Shogi Champion — Alan Baker. Although the club’s campus debut is far from recent, the loss of its founder to sabbatical leave has encouraged Adrian Wan ’15, along with other returning club members, to seek new recruits.

A variant of chess most popular in Japan, Shogi appeals to players who desire a complexity which is usually lost as chess game progress. “Unlike chess, when you take a piece, it’s retained in hand — that is, you can play the piece and drop it [back on the board],” Wan said. “There’s always the same number of pieces [in play], which is [what makes it] so fun.”

Potential members may find the pieces, which are in Japanese characters, to be intimidating. Wan admits the learning curve is rather steep, but that Shogi Club members “are more than willing to teach new players,” since most remember their first introduction to the game as well. “In an hour you can be pretty familiar with the pieces,” Wan said.

The club, which Professor Baker lists on his faculty bio as being “the only college Shogi Club outside of Japan,” as far as he knows, really just wants to raise awareness of the game. “It’s extremely fun to play — I’d love to see it played in Cornell, [for example]. It’s easily accessible,” Wan said.

Intrigued? Stop by Kohlberg’s second-floor rooms on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m. or Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. for an introduction to the game.

Graphic Novel Club
Founded this semester by Joan Huang ’15 and Jonah Schwartz ’15, the Graphic Novel Club’s inception should come as no surprise to those that know Joan. A comic book junkie with a Daily Gazette column titled “Graphic Content,” Joan’s interest in the genre manifests itself in day to day interactions and, most recently, her ambitious plans for a blossoming student group.

“We’re going to try to watch one movie, read one graphic novel, and one comic book each month,” Huang said. “Our goal is to meet four times a month, so about once a week.”

So far, interest for the club seems strong; between 15 and 20 people showed up for the first meeting, and many more emailed declarations of intrigue. “I actually got an email from the Psi Phi Club saying there were a lot of them who were really interested,” said Huang with a laugh.

What got Joan into the world of graphics and comic strips? “I got a car, so my parents couldn’t ostracize me for reading comics anymore,” Huang said. “The serious answer? I really like the way [comic strips and novels] mirror the way we see the world — in short strips and pieces, [and how they] combine visual and textual elements.”

Intrigued? Email Joan at

Bridge Club
Currently in the in-between stage of transforming from a loose assemblage of Bridge players to a chartered Swattie organization, the Bridge Club is moving into the fringe of legitimate club-dom with a strong track record. Begun by Dana dwellers last year, the group originated with a few strong players who were eager to teach their dorm mates the rules of the game, and has since recruited the occasional passer-by peering into a Kohlberg lecture room during game time. “There are a lot of CS [Computer Science] people, and we’ve had some people come and join who’ve seen us playing in Kohlberg,” Jeremy Rapaport-Stein ’14, the informal president of the loose organization, said.

In addition to the handful of new members, the club occasionally enjoys the participation of professors from the Mathematics and Computer Science departments.

Rapaport-Stein is responsible for organizing meeting times and maintaining an email list of interested players. He is also presently writing up a charter and application to present to the SBC, which he hopes to complete in the next two weeks.

Intrigued? Email Jeremy Rapaport-Stein at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading