Chess Club, good news!
Chess Club, Virtual Haverford cannot stop us!
Chess Club, I’m excited for another week of Arena play!
If you’ve been fortunate enough to earn your place on Sixth Former Benjamin Fosnocht’s weekly email list, you fall asleep on Sunday night a bit more reassured that the coming week can be conquered. We all dread Sunday evenings: the fun is over, the homework begins.
But not for Fosnocht. The Chess Club president completes his homework Saturday morning, understanding that his weekly email is just thirty-six hours from reaching the inboxes—and perhaps the hearts—of all his loyal members.
Who would have thought receiving Mr. Kolade’s club list email would be considered the good old days? Simply put, this list has dwindled to one.
Sixth Form member Drew Loughnane thinks Fosnocht’s leadership is the reason the Chess Club has thrived, despite many other clubs dissipating due to low membership.
“Ben has this ability to bring people together. His emails are energetic, funny, and professional,” Loughnane said.
“That’s one-hundred percent Ben’s doing,” faculty advisor Mr. Ator said. “He had an idea. He was organized about how he did it. But most importantly, he managed to keep it simple.”
“My goal is to get as many people interested in the game of chess as possible.” Fosnocht said. “That’s why I also send out weekly chess-related videos, which can be educational, entertaining, or a combination of both.”
Fosnocht’s drive to enhance his club continues off campus.
“Ben talks about chess at the dinner table. And the breakfast table. When he’s supposed to be doing homework, he’s playing chess,” his mother Dr. Sharon Popik said.
If you aren’t convinced that he’s all in on Chess Club, think again.
“[Ben] had to get a COVID test this week. Before and after it, he said he had to get home for Chess Club. He raced home from the appointment,” Dr. Popik added.
“There’s a wide variety of competition in the arena. You’re given a pre-ranking which fluctuates based on who you beat and lose to, and how good that player is.”Drew Loughnane ’21
Fosnocht fosters a welcoming environment. He used Chess.com’s algorithm to match players of equal skill level.
“There’s a wide variety of competition in the arena,” Loughnane explained. “You’re given a pre-ranking which fluctuates based on who you beat and lose to, and how good that player is.”
Essentially, after a few rounds, two beginners face off just as two undefeated players would.
“If your reason for not joining is that you’re ‘not good enough,’ then I strongly urge you to just try it out. Your games will be against opponents at your skill level,” Fosnocht said.
While Chess Club welcomes all skill levels, members recognize an unspoken, Fight Club-esque circle of elite players. When you join the online chess arena, you never know who’s a dark horse, and before they perfectly execute a Greek Sacrifice on your fragile defense, you’ve moved down the weekly ladder.
Mr. Ator forewarned about the players to look out for.
“Austin Zhuang is really good. [Liam] Dodds is good. Drew [Loughnane] is good. There are many more. It’s good competition.”
Sixth Former Matthew Schwartz was once an avid player but reverted back to intermediate status.
“It was awesome to see how many people were still interested in playing after school or during lunch, even when we weren’t in person.”Ben Fosnocht ’21
“The club has also helped rekindle my own interest in chess,” Schwartz said. “I’ve begun playing games with friends a lot more outside of school than I have in the past.”
“It was awesome to see how many people were still interested in playing after school or during lunch, even when we weren’t in person,” Fosnocht responded.
Students not only play fellow students but throw down the gauntlet to teachers as well, an experience both parties rarely enjoy in the classroom. Friendly competition certainly brings them closer together.
“I’ve played against Mr. Ator a few times. We’ve split the series, and I’m looking forward to the tiebreaker,” Loughnane mentioned. “I’ve also played Mr. Lengel before and after class.”