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Chess Club wins big at regional tournament

Published: November 7, 2014
Section: News


Seven of 12 members of the Brandeis Chess Club scored victories at the 81st Greater Boston Open last week.

Brandeis student and chess master Misha Vilenchuk ’16 also earned the championship, beating two chess experts and an international master before drawing grandmaster Alexander Ivanov into the final round. Vilenchuk was crowned the greater Boston chess champion. Chess Club’s wins highlighted the talent of many of the players. Many of these students had never played in a tournament before.

Joe DeFerrari ’18 took second place in the tournament’s lower section, with Damian Lin ’17, David Matthews ’17 and Kelvin Mei ’18 tying each other for fourth place in the same section. This was these students’ first tournament. Yudong Jiang ’18, also in his first tournament, placed second in the u1600 section, the Open’s third of four sections. Finally, Haotian Wang ’17 took second place in the second most advanced section, the u1900. Vilenchuk held his matches and wins in the most advanced section, the Open Section.

The tournament was held in Marlborough, MA, and consisted of four matches per round, with approximately 120 players from the greater Boston area in attendance. The victories Chess Club earned got them noticed by many other collegiate and local chess clubs. The Brandeis club has now received invitations to play from several of these local clubs, including the Waltham Chess Club.

Since their meetings began at the start of this semester, Chess Club’s senior members, including Vilenchuk and Maxwell Steinberg ’16, have worked closely with new members. They have focused specifically on skills beneficial in tournaments. Chess Club hopes to play at least one tournament per academic semester. They are also taking advantage of a new room on campus, where they are able to accommodate more players, said Vilenchuk.

Some future plans include playing other strong collegiate teams in the Northeast, including Harvard, as well as participating in more state tournaments.

Vilenchuk, who has been playing chess for most of his life, told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview that the ultimate goal of Chess Club is to develop the club into a powerful collegiate team. “We have a lot of dedicated new members willing to work hard and learn,” Vilenchuk said. He also remained humble throughout. “I think [my wins] were mostly luck,” he said with a smile.

This year’s focus on tournaments is a bit of a change for Chess Club. While more advanced players attended tournaments in previous years, 2014 is one of the first years during which the club has focused on developing group strength. Previous attention was also focused on Sam Shankland ’14, a chess grandmaster who recently took home the gold in the international 2014 Chess Olympiad. New and interested students should not assume that Chess Club is only for advanced players who wish to play professionally, according to Vilenchuk. “Our meetings are very casual and fun; even if you have never played a game, we will teach you and find you someone to play with,” he said.

Brandeis Chess Club meets Thursdays on the third floor of the Shapiro Campus Center at 6 p.m.