In a game of visualization and strategy, UCF’s chess club has obtained great success in the past months.
Winning the Florida Intercollegiate Spring Classics on March 19 and 20, UCF defeated other Florida universities such as UF, FIU and many more from around the state. In doing so, the Knights team won the tournament for the second straight year after they finished in second at nationals in Ohio last December.
The chess club has 30 members and has been around for nearly 15 years, but only recently has its prominence risen around the Orlando area.
Senior physics major and president of the club, Arnold Banner, has a strategic plan to bring more fame to the club.
“[I’m] just trying to make it more of a fun club,” Banner said. “To try to get people to come enjoy their time. Both the experts, the competitive players and the people who maybe have never played before.”
Freshman computer science major Jasper Zaporteza always had a passion to play chess, but the people around him just didn’t play in high school. The chess club has given him an opportunity to hone his skills and build friendships here at UCF.
“It’s really just a family environment,” Zaporteza said. “I really believe your opponents become your best friend after the match.”
The chess club travels and meets different players from around the country and maintains the relationships they create through avenues such as online chess.
“There’s a lot that you can learn from the people that you’re playing against,” Zaporteza said. “There’s a lot that you can learn from just being in the environment of just critically thinking all the time.”
UCF’s best chess player, junior finance major Lucas Van Beuzekom, has been playing chess since the age of six, and since has become No. 2000 on a rated system. In chess, the rating system runs from 0 to 2,800, 2,000 being considered as an expert level.
Van Beuzekom attributes the team’s success to its talent level.
“I think UCF has a pretty strong talent pool of chess players,” Beuzekom said. “We put together some of the best players on the same team and we practice every week.”
The chess team practices every week at the UCF Library next to Java Café on Thursdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. They also meet in the Student Union to recruit new members while also looking to improve their own game skills by studying puzzles and learning about the game of chess.
“Chess is the art of visualizing the obvious,” Banner said. “Using logic to solve puzzles and being able to predict moves ahead and just visualizing consequences.”
Jean Racine is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.