Your Move: The Chess Club is Back

Toby Russell, Staff Writer

All around the world, students and adults alike are becoming increasingly obsessed with chess. As the Queen’s Gambit and chess streamers began to dominate social platforms last year, the medieval game found a resurgence. Today, the iconic checkerboard pattern can be seen on laptops and phones on students’ desks across the campus. Meeting weekly on Monday afternoons, the chess club attempts to capitalize on this fervor.

“I think I’ll be better since this year we actually are organized and will be able to meet in person instead of two years ago, when it was disorganized and last year when it was not in person,” said William Rodensky (‘22), chess club veteran.

Despite the format change, the leadership remains the same with Sanjeev Anand (‘22) as president. He revitalized the chess club during the 2020-21 school year and is seeing it into the new one.

“I’ve been in clubs, off clubs, never really ran the chess club but then it went defunct about a year ago, so I had this idea that it should get started with the COVID season. […] I got in contact with Mr. Cabello, our sponsor,” said Anand. “I hope everything will be a little normalized.”

Cabello agrees with Anand’s hopes for the club this year.

“I was the sponsor last year, but last year was different. It was all virtual,” said Cabello. “It’s better doing it in person. […] [You] get to check their hands and see them while they’re playing. And you can see them struggling when they’re playing and you get to know them.”

At the interest meeting on the seventh, there were a few non-veteran chess players who showed interest in joining. Max Podowitz (‘25) enjoys the game and wants to learn more about it while playing with others.

“I’ve really liked chess all my life and I wanted an opportunity to do it […] in a higher capacity,” said Podowitz. “I want to see how I am because I haven’t really been able to play in a while over COVID.”

Junior Tahmid Jamal (‘23) has his family to thank for his reasons behind joining the chess club.

“I really like playing with my family because my dad used to be an actual IM. It was always fun because he would always roast me about my moves, but it was great to learn,” said Jamal.

Along with their thoughts on the club, many of the members also have strong opinions on chess as an activity.

“Chess is kind of like an art. You admire it. You ponder its complexities. But then the difference between art and chess is that chess always has a solution to the most complex situations. Whereas art, you’re free to interpret it. That’s why I really like chess,” said Jamal. “You also make more friends.”

Chess has been shown to have many mental benefits for its players.

“It really helps with finding patterns. It really helps with logical analysis, even in non-game-related situations,” said Podowitz.

Anand, who happens to be one of the top chess players in the state, takes a more scientific approach.

“Science has shown that chess has certain advantages, not only in critical thinking but also [that], there’s some relationship with it and the decline of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Anand. “People may consider it a nerd sport, but it’s definitely more than that. It’s more a way to get to know people and deliver a sense of community through competition.”

He plans to support this community with their meeting-to-meeting activities.

“I’m hoping that we can obviously meet more often but also do things like learn [about strategy]. Mainly just getting to play against each other [is the goal],” said Anand. “I’d probably run [tournaments] like late October, maybe early November. […] It’s just a way to get more people interested in the chess team [and] let our members see how well they’ve gotten.”

Anand also hopes to have enough members for a chess team that can compete in tournaments.

“I’ve done a little bit of research hoping that we can do Nationals this year,” said Anand. “I hope to do [an online tournament] every month.”
Cabello also wishes to see the club grow. He believes that chess can be a great way for students to connect.

“I like chess and the students like it too. It’s a good thing to do, to support what they do here in school, other than the classes themselves,” said Cabello. “I wish it could be bigger. […] I just want the club to expand and more students to be interested in it. […] Many students don’t know and they think, ‘Oh, chess is boring,’ but they really don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Update: For up-to-date information about the club and meeting locations, please contact Sanjeev Anand or join the Group Me