21 December 2021
Every Tuesday after school in room C131 students gather to talk with their friends, eat candy, learn new things, and play a very strategic game–chess.
The Atholton chess club re-formed after the virtual school year and will be meeting every Tuesday after school. These meetings follow a very relaxed schedule. Students have the freedom to do whatever they want as long as they are playing or learning about chess. Many students opt to play online chess, while a few play chess against each other on wooden boards.
“Just a lot of chess is played. Occasionally I will start the meeting by going over strategies or tactics or general ideas from whatever I know and then we just start playing. That might take fifteen or twenty minutes then we just play. Other times we just go out and they play online or over the board,” said Mr. Schmitz, the club sponsor.
After the virtual year, the chess club began again with many new members. Many of these new members were largely inspired by the Netflix show, The Queen’s Gambit. This show inspired many students to learn more about chess and how to play. It also reignited other students long-lost passion for chess.
Mr. Schmitz, the teacher leader of the chess club, remarked that “since everybody has their chromebook now, playing online is really easy. So a lot of students just like to play online.”
Online chess also has the added advantages of helpful tools. Sean Qin, a member of the chess club, explained that in online chess, “You can draw lines” this helps chess players visualize their moves in advance.
However, some chess club members prefer chess on an actual board over online chess. Kevin Kanneth, a sophomore at Atholton and a member of the chess club, prefers an actual board because “you can feel it and understand how it moves.”
Others also prefer chess on an actual board because in online chess there are a lot of ways to cheat. Like Sean Qin said, cheating is “a whole can of worms you have to open and deal with.”
For some members, attending the chess club meetings is not the only way that they express their passion for chess. Some Atholton students compete in chess competitions outside of school.
These competitions are held in old high schools. There are boards set up in playing rooms. Sean, who has attended multiple chess competitions, described the process. He said, “You just go in, play your game, and you either lose, draw, or win. You get out and then you just wait for your next game.” Once all the games are done, there is an award ceremony.
These chess tournaments are not only competitions, they are also a fun social event. Sean said that while waiting in between games, “you can order some pizza” or “chat with friends.”
Many chess club members also noted that playing chess had a positive effect on them. Kevin stated that chess “improves your problem-solving and planning ahead.” Sean added that chess improved his patience and allowed him to “think about things a lot more.”
Sean encourages students to join the chess club because it helps to improve patience. Also, it’s “just a nice fun thing to play with friends.”