Check-ing in on the competition

WHHS hosts city-wide chess tournament


Azariah Cuff

A multitude of students from all over the Greater Cincinnati area compete in one multiple of the CSCS tournament sections for a chance to win a medal and bragging rights.

Chess is a highly concentration-based game. This “Royal Game,” first played among the Indian nobility, requires a substantial amount of skill and experience to properly defeat your opponent, both physically and mentally.

Now, millions of people play the mind-based game around the globe, and on Jan. 11, hundreds of students around the Cincinnati area gathered around boards at WHHS to truly test their skills on a competitive level.

Chess Club is one of many clubs at WHHS, but this club is purely devoted to teaching WHHS students of all ages, races and genders how to play chess. William Shaw, a psychology teacher at WHHS by day and chess enthusiast by night, is extremely passionate about all things chess and loves to share his knowledge with all the students that walk through the doors of his classroom.

“The kids are learning how to play chess, they have fun doing it and they’re making friends… chess solves problems… if you think of all the different strategies that you can have in a chess game, you can make those parallels to life,” Shaw said.

The club also caters to new players too. If you come into chess club with no idea on how to play chess, but have an interest in what it’s all about, Shaw and many other experienced players will help you until you develop basic skills on how to play and, eventually, strategic tips and tricks to defeat your friends and possibly compete.

“If you’re new to playing chess, we teach you how to play, and if you’re more experienced, we can give you tips… Chess gives you a way to pass the time if you bring a friend, and it really helps you with your cognitive skills and how to analyze things a lot more quickly,” Chess Club President James Baur, ‘21, said.

Baur won an award in the championship rated section and continued to represent WHHS Chess Club as one of the most skilled players.

The goal of playing chess is to checkmate your opponent’s King. When the King is threatened with capture, it’s called a check. According to the website Chess Coach Online, “checkmate is when the opponent’s king is attacked by one of your chess pieces and can’t escape, either by moving the king away or getting protection from other chess pieces,” and players at the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series (CSCS) kept this in mind.

The 2020 CSCS, held in the faculty lunchrooms and math wings of WHHS, possessed the same atmosphere as the WHHS Chess Club, only with more intensity and a lot more students.

If you think of all the different strategies that you can have in a chess game, you can make those parallels to life.”

— Chess Club adviser William Shaw

Each student that entered into the competition beforehand was immediately matched up with a player of their skill level. This means that kindergarteners could very well be eligible to play in one of the championship rounds.
Winners from each section were presented with multitudes of medals and trophies by Shaw and other advisors of the tournament.

The first round began at 8:45 a.m. and ended no later than 1:30 p.m. As soon as each student ended their match with another player from their section, they joined the congratulatory spirits of their family and friends in the cafeteria, where many of the students played, ate pizza and simply did what they enjoyed most: played chess.

Many of the students had different strategies on how to defeat their opponent, but as it is with personalities, every strategy is unique and tailored to that individual’s experience and teachings.

“It’s like a sport for your mind, and it really helps you with all you do, with how much you have to focus… I mostly just try to stay focused no matter what happens and well… checkmate,” Sanbvi Jha, a fifth grader at Mason Intermediate, said.

Chess Club meets on Mondays once a week in room 1108 where members enjoy tons of pizza, donuts and, most of all, chess. The next scheduled chess tournament will be held at Lakota East High School on Feb. 1. To sign up your student, have your entries submitted no later than Jan. 30 and visit for more info.