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Check Mates Host Chess Tournament

While most of Hopkins spent the weekend afer exams sleeping in and recovering before the second term, the Hopkins Chess Club hosted the third annual Connecticut State Grade Chess Tournament on January 19.
Hundreds of eager young chess players filled the tables lining upper Heath and spent the day playing chess.

The tournament was organized by George and Jake Wang '20, who, along with Cole Markham '20 are the heads of the Hopkins Chess Club. Te tournament has grown considerably since Hopkins frst hosted it in 2017. In the inaugural year, there were 120 participants, and that number has since grown to over 400 players from schools all over the state. Some Hopkins students also participated in the tournament. The Hopkins Junior team won the Eleventh Grade Connecticut State Chess Championship title with a standout performance by Cole Markham '20, who got second place. Ian Dalis '20, tournament participant, said playing chess “really challenges me to have unwavering focus for hours at a time.”

The Wang twins, who organized and ran the tournament, did not compete. After the tournament, they held a chess exhibition, where the duo simultaneously played against eleven of the competitors.

Outside of school, the Wang twins are very involved in Chess Haven, a 501 non-proft organization dedicated to putting chess to use in the classroom. They founded the organization in 2012. George Wang ‘20 described this work as “a full time job outside of school.” During their three years at Hopkins they have formed the Hopkins Chess Haven Alliance in order to increase the school’s involvement with the organization. Over the past three years the tournament has donated all of its proceeds to Chess Haven, totalling over 20,000 dollars.

George elaborated on the program: “100% of the funds will be used to continue our development throughout the New Haven community, as we have already outreached to over 400 students from New Haven public schools such as the Elm City Montessori School. We have already provided $7000 in funds through chess equipment and through grants to start new chess programs.” Chess Haven plans to use this money to create a chess-based curriculum for elementary school students. “The money will also be used to expand our affliation with the Common-Core Standards Initiative. We designed and published a common-core aligned chess curriculum, which is currently being piloted in over 250 schools across 30 states.”

The Wangs plan to continue to support Chess Haven through events like the tournament. George Wang said “I think that it is important to give back to the New Haven community.” The next step for the Hopkins chess club will be a trip to the World Team Chess Tournament (U.S. Team East) in Parsippany, New Jersey. Beginning on Saturday, February 16, Hopkins will have multiple teams of four competing for the title.
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