Normally you would expect to see the senior courtyard filled with students lounging on the grass or throwing Frisbees. Conversations would fill the area with laughter. People would be bustling through as a shortcut to get food from the cafeteria. Groups would be gathered around the blue tables for lunch, and afterwards a game of competitive “soccer tennis” might erupt in the center of the courtyard. But in the recent cold months of January and February, the courtyard has been devoid of any activity. Instead, students now pile around tables in the senior commons to participate in a peaceful and patient game that has taken the school by storm. But what could possibly captivate the attention of such an energetic group of individuals? The answer is Chess.

Yes, Chess, a strategic board game in which opponents must test their wits in a slow, time-consuming, and complex battle to capture the other’s king. Throughout the recent weeks, you could not enter into the commons without witnessing a match unravel before your eyes. There would always be two students sitting steadily across from each other, staring intently at one of two boards Mr. Shoemaker has provided.

Other students could be found on the sidelines, either waiting for their turn or offering their two-cents as to what strategies each player should follow. Along with this, you might have witnessed students staring down at their iPads or laptops and playing chess electronically, either facing fellow students or challenging online opponents. Although the activity has died down a little with the coming of Spring, the senior commons has ultimately transformed into a hub for everything Chess.

Now you may ask how could such a tactical game, which requires every ounce of patience an impulsive high school senior can muster, could possibly become so popular? Regarding this, three seniors offered their input, as well as their own motivations for competing in the game.

Ethan Lee ’18 stated, “I think it’s been popular because of chance and the weather. People stayed inside because of the cold or the rain or even a combination, and the senior commons became the place to hang during free periods. Thus came the chance. The chess boards were just sitting around and seniors, being the bored individuals we are, decided to play with whatever was closest.” He continued, “I think I enjoy chess because I’m not awful and I can occasionally win some games.”

Offering another viewpoint, Nicholas Wilson ’18 said “I think it’s become so popular with the seniors because many of us enjoy a casual way to compete with each other in a pressure-free setting… I myself enjoy playing chess since it’s a fun way to distract myself from everything else that’s going on and it’s fun to develop and practice my skills.”

Noah Johnson ’18 agreed, “I think it’s become popular since humans naturally enjoy challenging others. I also feel that the communal nature of the commons, where we can watch others play and learn as a community definitely plays a part in its sudden surge. The more people who play, the more people exposed and inevitably try it.” He went on, “I cherish the feeling of pitting my mental skills against the skills of others.”

Whether you have noticed or not, Chess has become a major part of the senior culture in the passing months, and regardless of its small decline fairly recently, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. If you’re a student who hasn’t joined in on the competitive fun, and would like to test your skills, come to the senior commons during your free periods. Someone will be waiting.


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