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Students on board with chess

The UCC chess team won the Canadian high school championship and is ranked among the top five in the country, and a weekly club welcomes players of all abilities.
“I first touched a chess board at age three, and, at six, I went to play at the local chess club. I’ve been playing in tournaments ever since,” says team captain Henry Liu ’25. 

Liu led UCC to victory at the Canadian Schools Team Chess Championship, which was played online. The five players (Liu, along with Charis Zhu ’29, Nicholas Wu ’23, Zeen Liu ’26 and Daniel Guan ‘25) each played five rounds against opposing players and, as a team, won all five rounds. Their win qualified them for the World Schools Team Chess Championship, which was held in Kazakhstan in August. Four of the players travelled to Asia where they had a strong showing in the U18 category, outperforming the team’s ranking. 

“Winning is nice, but we want to improve our individual skills,” Liu says. 

At chess club meetings every Tuesday, students of all abilities play informal matches. “We bring out a box of boards and people start up games,” says Max von Bargen ’25, who along with Andrew Radin ’24 is club co-head. “It’s super informal.”

The club welcomes beginners interested in learning, casual players like von Bargen or serious competitors like Liu, who has achieved the level of national master through tournament play. Teacher Eric Shore oversees the sessions and offers advice, although the advanced players are also happy to give pointers to those less experienced. This year, the club hopes to reach out to the Prep School to get younger boys interested. And there will be inter-school tournaments this spring. 
 
“We have all different skill levels,” says Liu. “It’s a place where people come and play with friends, get advice, enjoy learning and build connections.”

Says von Bargen, “My grandma got me into board games and, in Grade 1, I started playing in school for fun. I love the strategy and the fact that there are so many different possibilities.”

Radin, who started playing chess at age four, says, “It’s hard to get bored, because the game is never the same.”
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