The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Capturing Victories

New Chess team off to a hot start
The+chess+team+at+an+out-of-school+match.
Photo credit: Parker
The chess team at an out-of-school match.

A recreational game has turned into a competitive Parker sport. This year, Parker’s Chess Club has transformed into a competitive team, playing in consistent matches against other schools in their league. The game of chess has skyrocketed in popularity at Parker during the last few years, and the Chess Club has gained lots of momentum as this year has gone by.

Juniors Jasper Chazen and Shalen Chawla became the heads of the Chess Club this year and were determined to change and legitimize the team at Parker. “Last year, people were saying that it’d be so much fun if we could compete against other schools,” Chazen said. 

The Chess Club only met on Mondays, and there wasn’t any variety in the meetings. “The same people would show up every time we met,” Chazen said, “but now, we have a huge mixture of people showing up, sometimes students that I’ve never even seen before.”

Practices this year have had a stronger purpose, according to the heads. “Since we are competing in matches this year, it gives our players an incentive to make use of our practices, unlike before,” Chazen said. The competitive players on the team make use of their time by preparing for their upcoming matches and playing against peers who are at similar levels.

The way that chess matches work is different from any other sport. Parker sends eight players to compete and each player is assigned to a board. Each player gets 45 minutes, and each board is worth a different amount of points, with the highest worth 12 and the lowest worth 5. So far, the Chess Team has won two of their three matches against Marist and Mount Carmel.

Darius Cleaver, a sophomore who has played chess his whole life, has competed in all of the matches this year. “What’s nice about having a large team is that we have lots of depth,” Cleaver said. “All of the players that we send are really good and we have a lot who would be willing to come to any tournament.” For Parker’s two wins, most of their points have come from the lower ranked boards, demonstrating the strength of the team’s depth.

“I’ve really enjoyed being on the team this year,” Cleaver said. “I’m excited to play more over the board, classical chess games against people at my level this year.” Recently, chess has become popular online, but members of the chess team have shown an appreciation for playing in person. 

Transforming the club into a competitive team was difficult. The club advisor, Upper School registrar Matt McCaw, worked hard with the Athletic Department to make the team an IHSA activity, similar to the Scholastic Bowl Team. “We were also lucky to get a spot in the Chicago Chess Conference,” McCaw said. The conference is a group of private schools, including Latin and Ignatius, that have competed together for many years. One school pulled out of the conference at the last minute, allowing Parker to snag the last spot.

Now, the Chess Team is as popular as ever for beginner and advanced players. “We are really trying to make this an inclusive environment,” Chazen said. “I’ve made at least 20 friends just because of the chess team.” 

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About the Contributor
Deven Gupta, Staff Director
Deven is an incoming senior and will be serving as the Staff Director this year. Deven has been on "The Weekly" for all four years and also enjoys playing golf.