Chess tournament fills the STEM Commons with lively competition



The founder of Language Virtual, senior Anna Lin and co-leader of the Chess Club, sophomore David Katsman, collaborated to host a chess tournament on Thursday, April 6 during X-block in STEM.

With a goal of raising money for the organization, Language Virtual partnered with the Chess Club to host a chess tournament on Thursday, April 6 during X-block, flooding the STEM Commons with chatter and intense competition.

Founder of Language Virtual, senior Anna Lin and co-leader of the Chess Club, sophomore David Katsman, joined forces to host this lively, competitive and mission-driven event. The entrance fee to the tournament was $5, with the winner receiving a $10 prize and a trophy.

Since freshman year, Lin has been running and involving other students in her non-profit organization, Language Virtual. Language Virtual provides students around the world with access to English learning. After observing a new game bouncing across screens around the school and being played in nooks of the library, Lin said she was struck with an idea.

“[Language Virtual] wanted to do a fun fundraiser for students, and we decided since the trend right now is chess, we would try to host a chess tournament,” Lin said. “The goal of this event is to raise as much money as we can to fund our organization.”

Katsman has been playing chess since he was four years old and attending tournaments since he was five. His peers know him for his skillful maneuvers and expert trickery. In addition to the strategy and skill required in chess, Katsman said that he has developed a more figurative outlook on the game.

“Everything depends on you,” Katsman said. “It’s a pretty good metaphor for life; your actions have meaning.”

In organizing the event, Katsman said that two main goals drove him and Lin to work together.

“The goals of the event are for people to enjoy the tournament and have fun competing against each other and also to raise money for Language Virtual, because I think they are a very good organization,” Katsman said.

As Katsman stood over the bracket and filled in names to each branch, more and more spectators began to gather in anticipation of the event. Junior and Chess Club member, Anja Radosavljevic, said that she noticed that the event had generated a competitive atmosphere.

“It’s definitely playful, maybe a bit tense when there are long plays,” Radosavljevic said. “It’s definitely fun. It’s important to build community and [it’s] for a good cause.”

As kings were checkmated and tension heightened, the pool of players left dwindled. Multiple matches and a series of thrilling “bullet” rounds of chess left junior Jamie Evarts, junior Eli Traub and Katsman in the finals. After much debate and commentary from the crowd, Katsman agreed to play Evarts and Traub in a two-against-one match.

After back-and-forth play, Traub and Evarts eventually trapped Katsman’s king and came out victorious. Evarts said having his chess knowledge paired with Traub’s gave them a leg up in the match.

“Chess is a mental game,” Evarts said. “We had double the mental power and double the mental fortitude.”

After a successful event, Lin said one way the money will be used will be to provide English learning tools to students who have moved from Ukraine to the United States.

“All the money that we make from this tournament will go towards helping sustain our organization so we can continue helping students in Ukraine. We have a lot of new students from Ukraine who had to evacuate to the US,” Lin said. “For example, a couple students in California and Florida right now are learning English with us. So, all the funds will be supporting them.”