Chess club creates community


Mars Canepa

DURING CHESS CLUB: Senior Ashley Fuselier (left) junior Jody Louro (center) and junior Joaquin Welch (right) participate in games of chess.

Emerson Traugott, Photo Essay Editor

A single glide against the montage of neatly organized black and white squares, the base of a world of logic and strategy, can eliminate an opponent, granting a tactful adversary for them to claim victory. For Eric Jamil, chess club president, each game brings a satisfying competition of rationality and intuition.  An orchestra of falling chess pieces, groans of defeat, and cries of victory fill history teacher Mr. Stampley’s classroom every Friday morning.

“I think what I truly love the most about chess is that I not only have a lot of fun while playing but it’s basic,” Jamil said.  “It’s something everyone can learn to do with a little practice, you don’t need to pay a lot of money to understand it or to even play, it’s been around for thousands of years, and everyone and anyone can play,” Jamil said.

Jamil’s passion for chess began in a year when everyone was forced to try new things in order to escape the overwhelming sense of isolation. In 2020 he started to play with his friends online. Throughout the coming months his love for the game grew and when quarantine was lifted being together again to enjoy a new activity only made the matches more enjoyable. 

“I love chess club and I really want to be able to continue next year just because I feel like it is a great way of meeting people,” Jamil said. “I really prefer in-person over a chess board online, that’s what made learning during COVID so difficult you couldn’t really interact with the chess pieces in real-time.”

An average chess club meeting begins with everyone separated into groups of two, some onlookers standing by patiently waiting for games to commence while most participate in the games themselves, early awaiting their next victory. Junior Laura Schulze is a returning member of the club.

“It’s really fun to go with my friends, even though I don’t know much about chess I like being able to learn more about the game and even watch some of Eric’s games,” Schulze said. “I think that is how I learned a lot about at least the basics of chess.”

While Jamil has claimed his presidency of the club since the beginning of the year, he is not the founder nor was he formally appointed. His love for the game and the fact that he wins nearly every game made the decision merely a formality between the few existing members. 

“I didn’t necessarily establish the club as it was already preexisting. I know there are lots of teachers that will sponsor different clubs that they themselves feel passionate about, and teachers might even reach out to you if you seem to have a lot of interest or knowledge in one subject,” Jamil said “But the chess club already exists, to begin with, and Mr. Stampley was already sponsoring, so I didn’t have that component to worry about with the chess club specifically. My parents really inspired me to continue the club. They were saying “you spend so much time playing chess, might at well make time at school to play too,” so I just kind of joined and started to win a lot of games from there it was pretty evident that I should become president.”

Jamil begins every game with the same move, quickly maneuvering one of his pawns to its next post. Every decision is limited to brief moments of calculation, a short timeline that has the power to determine the fate of a game and who will utter the word of victory, “checkmate”. 

“I start nearly every game with the same move, I go E-4 then I go bishop C-4,” Jamil said. “Something I built upon from the first move I ever learned, and one of the most classic openings, E-4 (King pawn out), and the opponent plays E-5 (Kings pawn out) then you go to knight three, that was at least the first opening I learned.”