Make Your Move: Chess Match Checks

The top five players from the Whitman College Chess Club traveled to Seattle in November play a match against the University of Washington. This event was the culmination of months of planning and multiple events, one of which was a campus-wide tournament that occurred on Halloween Day in Maxey. Shengjun Wang, myself, and Matthew Coppersmith tied for first place at that event. Matt Buswell received 4th, while Casey Schafer, Megan Gleeson, and Robin Rounthwaite tied for 5th. Due to various complications, we eventually settled on a top five for the match that was slightly different from our top five tournament finishers. Our order was #1 Shengjun Wang, #2 Garrett Atkinson (myself), #3 Matthew Coopersmith, #4 Richard Brown, and #5 Nikolaus Kennelly.

When we arrived, Odin Atkinson, the University of Washington team president, greeted us and gave us a campus tour in the rain (fitting weather, as those of us familiar with Seattle know). The following morning, the UW chess team hosted us for a breakfast at the The Cafe on The Ave. We flipped a coin to determine who would play white on three out of five of the boards, and Whitman won the coin toss. After breakfast, we practiced openings with the knowledge of the color of the pieces we would play that afternoon in the match. Around noon, we checked out of our hotel and headed to the Lyceum (a large room with seating in “the Hub” at the center of the University of Washington). Prior to the event, FIDE representative and UW Law Professor Walter Walsh spoke to us about the status of collegiate chess. It was exciting to learn that many schools have chess programs that compete nationally and sometimes internationally. Professor Walsh spoke highly of the Pan American College Chess championships in particular. He encouraged both UW and Whitman to consider fielding a team to attend.

The match began after the speech. Each player had one hundred and twenty minutes to make all of his moves. On board 1, Shengjun Wang, playing white, represented Whitman against International Master Shiven Khosla. On board 2, I had the black pieces against National Master Michael Omori. On board 3, our Matthew Coppersmith played white, facing Expert Ethan Bashkansky. On board 4, Whitman’s Richard Brown, playing black, squared off against Expert Richard Ding. And on board 5, our Nikolaus Kennelly had the white pieces against Felix Mylius. The Huskies prevailed in these games. However, they were all competitive; each one took more than twenty moves and featured a number of exchanges. A couple of the games lasted into the end game with only rooks and pawns remaining. After the contest was over, we conversed briefly with the UW chess team and told them that we anticipate hosting them next year.

We are extremely grateful that ASWC chose to fund our attendance of this event. We all enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about the game while meeting new people and growing as a club.

Garrett Atkinson

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