Checkmate!

In the middle of a fierce match, West High Games Club members compete against each other in a chess tournament hosted on February 4, 2022 after school. All skill levels were welcome and winners received gift cards to Target. Tournament participant Elizabeth Kim (10) shared that “when I heard there was a chess tournament I was like – woah! And it just seemed like a fun after-school thing.”

Art/Photo by Sullivan Kolakowski

In the middle of a fierce match, West High Games Club members compete against each other in a chess tournament hosted on February 4, 2022 after school. All skill levels were welcome and winners received gift cards to Target. Tournament participant Elizabeth Kim (10) shared that “when I heard there was a chess tournament I was like – woah! And it just seemed like a fun after-school thing.”

Cyrilla Zhang, Staff Writer

   Quiet chatter and the clacking of chess pieces could be heard throughout room 5202 as the afternoon sun streamed in through open doors. On January 4, 2022, a small chess competition was hosted — funded by West High’s Games Club.

   The Games Club leaders decided on holding this tournament after much planning and discussion. “I feel like it was the natural conclusion to what this club is — the game we play most around here is chess,” Games Club Co-President Vince Rabanes (12) stated. “And I have seen for myself the kind of talent we have around here, we have some very high level players,” he concluded.

   Once everyone got situated and settled in with their partners the games began. The tournament started with five matches. As club leaders walked around to monitor ongoing games and mark down the winners, players quietly contemplated their next move to get one step closer to a checkmate. Most participants in the tournament are also members of the Games Club and play chess during club meetings. Elizabeth Kim (10) tried a new opening called the Fried Liver Attack during her match. “I’m not a chess grandmaster, so I can’t exactly play it to its fullest potential, but I did learn a lot ever since joining the club,” she said.

   As people were eliminated one by one, they went to watch other students. This continued until finally, there were two final contenders battling for first place. A crowd of people huddled around them, watching their every move. The time on each side’s stopwatch ticked down second by second. Anticipation could be felt all through the air. After what felt like an eternity, both players finally shook hands and ended the match. Qinghan Jia (9) was the winner! He was awarded with a $25 Target gift card for his first place finish.

   During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Games Club stopped meeting. It was an active club before, but died out after all students were sent online. This year, current Co-Presidents Anika Agarwal (11) and Rabanes have brought it back to life, creating a welcoming environment to play games and meet new people.

   Members of the Games Club play a variety of games, not only chess. They have other board games like Yahtzee, card games for large groups of people like UNO and even a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. “One time we played UNO with a bunch of other people. We didn’t know their names or what grade they were in, but it was still really fun!” explained Kim. This club is a great place to meet new people, try new things and bond over games. 

  If you are interested in joining Games Club, head over to Room 5202 (Mr. Kurashige) on Fridays at lunch for a relaxing and fun end to your week!