Chess at Newman


On October 23, 2020, The Queen’s Gambit, based on the 1983 coming-of-age novel by Walter Trevis, was released on Netflix and became a near instant hit. Many, including Netflix, were surprised by the show’s success, but should they have been? A compelling main lead, with the talent of Anya Taylor-Joy, in a battle of wits as she tries to fight personal demons and the world, everyone could relate to this series on some level and be excited by the journey. However, the effect at Newman has generated a surge of chess enthusiasm that I’ve discovered has been somewhat of an undercurrent for some time.

In the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year, chess boards appeared in the loud side of the library. They could’ve been in storage somewhere, or a student could have brought them themselves, but it matters less how they got there and more how much people have been using them. Though it was more popular in the fall, it’s a common sight for seniors and juniors to be seen playing games with each other during free periods. One of these seniors is James Nguyen, whose passion and skill in the game I can personally attest to after playing multiple games with him. “I’m numero uno in seniors” he’s said, also endorsing the proficiency of classmates Everett Philipson and Kyle Hinchey. Sterling Scott and Bo Wynn have also proven that they can hold their own in a match, I’ve personally witnessed a victory from both against James. However, Bo has since been in retirement since his victory, thinking it best to quit while he’s ahead. As for the juniors, James believes Ben Patron is the best he’s played as he’s won 4 to 2 games against James. James also informed me that games have been scattered here or there over the years since his 8th grade year, but not since recently have there been so many interested players and frequent matches.

Overall ratings are uncertain and the true rank of gradewide players is unknown since none of these matches are really played with that intent. Truly, people enjoy playing for the fun of it and to engage in some goodhearted competition. While most chess enthusiasm seems to be concentrated around the Classes of 2021 and 2022, given how long chess interest has endured since October, perhaps enough people will be motivated to establish a new chess club next year. Ms. Nicholson has informed me that Newman used to have such a club but lack of participation and goofing around during meetings ultimately brought it to an end. Perhaps with the actual game being played nowadays, this club can be renewed with an entirely different outcome.