Sergio Flores is an old pro at chess. He recalls his early experience with the game. “I started playing when I was ten years old in Peru. Someone saw me playing chess, and offered to coach me. So then I hired him to play chess.”
Sergio is the president of NJIT’s Chess Club. A Mechanical Engineering major, he appreciates the logic skills that the game imbues, as well as the competitive spirit.
“It helps you think ahead, not just by one move, and not just in chess. It helps you think in life too.”
He is new to his position; he assumed the role as president only last semester. However, with Bobby DeMarco, his predecessor, and the rest of the club’s talented members, they are making a name for themselves and NJIT by competing in a national chess competition, the 45th annual World Amateur Team & U.S. Team East.
Until recently, they were just a chess club, but that changed last semester when they formed a chess team with some of their members and went to Texas to compete in the Pan-American 2014 intercollegiate chess championship in December. There, the team competed against other schools from across the nation.
Bobby was one of the people that played in the tournament. “I’ve only participated in a few official tournaments, and it was amazing how many people were there.” Bobby explained. “There were 45 teams and we started off ranked 35th. We averaged just under 1800. The tournament was good to get us some experience.”
The team performed well at the tournament; they won 30 out of 45 games, not bad for their first competition. Now, they are hoping to top their first performance at the World Amateur Team tournament, which will take place from February 14-16 in Parsipanny.
To improve, the group is now sending two teams with 4 starters and 1 alternate. The traveling members also have additional 3 hour practice sessions every week where they study and analyze past games and have tournaments amongst themselves. These sessions occur outside of their regular, weekly meeting.
The chess club meets every Wednesday, from 2:30 to 5:30. They sometimes meet in Kupfrian 110, the other times they meet in the Campus Center 230. Whichever room they meet, it is always full of passionate chess players absorbed in their game. All were eager to share their enthusiasm for their newly established team. “I came here because I like chess, and I was really impressed by the caliber of players. I was surprised,” said Matthew Cohen, a member of the club.
To promote the game, club, and also fundraise to send members to the national tournaments, the club hosts chess tournaments open to all. They hold at least one tournament or event for students every semester and are always open to teaching newbies the basics of chess.
“I started coming here last semester and this has become the highlight of my week. I lose a lot but I still end up enjoying it. And I made some great friends” said Marcus Patino about the club.
With the jump into the national spotlight, the group hopes to show their strength and bring glory to NJIT.
Manuel Alvarez, a member of the club, spoke about the openness of the group. “Everybody enjoys it. It is not all about chess, it is the people that you meet, that makes this club so great. I encourage everyone who wants to learn or just play to come to the NJIT Chess Club. Everyone is welcome.”
Similarly, another member, Nevin Matthew, shared his experiences in the club. ”I started coming here last semester and I’ve been learning a lot about chess and about how different and unique players are. I also met a lot of different people that I otherwise would not have met if I didn’t join chess club. It helped me make new friends. “
Sergio encourages students to stop by and play a few games. “Come play chess with us, as an engineer you need to think ahead in life, and chess is a game that might help you do that. Also, it’s fun.”
It’s true. Chess is fun.
Questions and comments about the chess club can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.