By Diana Grinberg ‘15 and Victoria Kantymyr ‘15
Chess was taken to a new level when the Chess-In-the-Schools (College Bound) program paid for four Midwood students to compete in nationals in San Diego.
“Chess is all about calculation and thinking everything through. One wrong move can cost you the game,” said Jessica Lauv.
Sophomores Yaying Zheng, Wendy Jiang, Jessica Lauv, and Caitlin Louie were four of the many participants of the 2014 Chess-In-the-Schools tournament. The program that they were specifically in was the College bound program. The College Bound program’s main goal is to get young New Yorkers to expand their knowledge beyond their academic studies. The program emphasizes giving back to society and living life as inventive citizens. Each year, the nonprofit organization draws 400 to 600 students, grades K-12, in hopes of improving their performances in school and providing them with different approaches to problems.
There were no basic requirements for the competition itself, but students had to complete three community service events, three cultural events, and compete in six tournaments before they could go to nationals.
“We had good attendance at the seminars and went to every event we needed to go to,” said Jessica Lauv. “Our chess skills didn’t determine whether or not we qualified for nationals.”
On the morning of April 3, the girls headed for San Diego. Once they landed, they could not help but notice the difference between New York and California. With no time to waste, the four immediately began preparing for the competition.
“When we first arrived in California, we were very excited. The scenery in San Diego was so different from New York’s,” said Yaying Zheng.
The first tournament was scheduled for the next day, and although they did do a little sightseeing, contestants did not have too much leisure time to spend admiring San Diego.
The nationals consisted of a number of games that led up to the finals. Some games lasted over two hours while others lasted up to four.
“My longest game was 3 and a half hours. In the end, I had a total of five points, which earned me 23rd place,” said Caitlin Louie.
Wendy won 9th place in the under 800 section, and together with Caitlin she won a team trophy for 17th place, as did Jessica in the under 1200 section.
The students not only had a great learning experience, but they also got to enjoy themselves in a mini-vacation.
“The experience was mentally exhausting, but unforgettable,” said Louie. “At first, I disliked chess and didn’t win a single game until months after I started playing, but after a while, it just clicked and I love it now