Freeholder Brian Levine will play multiple chess games at once at SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch

On Wednesday, June 28, 2-5 p.m., Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine will challenge up to 12 chess players ages 8+ to a Chess Challenge (simultaneous chess games) at Somerset County Library System of New Jersey’s Bridgewater Library branch, located at 1 Vogt Drive in Bridgewater. All participants must know how to play chess and must pre-register by calling 908-526-4016 or visiting Parents, friends, teachers, and advisors are welcome to attend and do not need to register.

A lifetime New Jersey resident, former mayor of Franklin, and in his third year as a Somerset County Freeholder, Levine has been playing chess since the age of seven, when he saw his father playing chess with his older cousin and asked to learn. “For years, my father would always win when we played,” said Levine, who was recently named Freeholder of the Year by the New Jersey Conference of Mayors. “I spent time studying my one chess book and I studied the chess board, and by the time I was in fifth or sixth grade, I was finally the victor. It certainly was with mixed feelings that I beat my father.”

He continued to study, play others, and join chess clubs, which eventually lead to him winning “Top 12th Grader in New Jersey” in the New Jersey High School Championship as a senior at J.P. Stevens High School in Edison, NJ.

Levine is not only a life-time chess lover, but he’s also a life-time library lover. As a teen, he volunteered in the J.P. Stevens High School library. While attending college, he worked in the library at Rutgers University. “I love the plethora of information and the diversity of what’s available at the library,” said Levine. “I love that you can look up something specific or just look around and see what jumps out at you. It’s an inviting place to read, to write, to use a computer, to attend a program.”

Which is why Levine is bringing the Chess Challenge to SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch. “I first played in a tournament similar to this in high school,” said Levine. “I tried it a second time, going up against a Chess Master at the Menlo Park Mall. I was his last board and it ended with a draw. It was exciting and I really enjoyed the experience. I love the idea of interacting with our community–and I have a passion for both chess and libraries. Reaching out to our County’s youth through chess is a perfect opportunity to let my passions collide!”

Admittedly not a Chess Master, Levine does confess to being in the top 20% of tournament chess players nationally (and the top 1% of all people who know how to play chess). His tip for opponents: “You have to constantly think of offense and defense. I know it isn’t as fun, but the defense is equally or even more important than the offense.”

When asked what happens if any of his opponents beat him, Levine responded, “If they do, it’s great! They’re good and thinking.”

To further increase the fun quotient, any challenger who manages to outstrategize Freeholder Levine, will be awarded an e-reader – compliments of SCLSNJ.

For more information and to register, visit

More about Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine

His favorite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. “In high school, I was extremely enamored with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’” said Levine. “I’ve read the book a number of times–when my daughter read it in high school, I reread it again with her.”

His favorite place to read is in his living room. “There’s a chair I sit in to read, and next to it is an end table. On that end table, I can always find a spare pair of glasses, a highlighter, a pen, and a pad of arrows I can stick on the pages as I read.”

He keeps a number of journals. “I have one for ideas and plans, one for chess play notes, one for exercise tracking, one for political plans and desires, and even one for the budding author in me.”

Did you say ‘budding author’? “I’ve had a short story published in the past. Now I’m looking to write a nonfiction book about people who go against the grain.”