by Kandace Kohr
There are 16 pieces in front of you, all of which serve a specific strategic purpose in your quest to defeat the opposition. Your next move will shape the course of the game, so choose wisely. And you only have four seconds to make a decision.
What do you do?
Well, if you’re Stuart Spiegel ’19 (computer science), you keep calm despite the pressure and help lead your team to a collegiate chess championship. That's exactly what Spiegel did recently at the 2018 Gettysburg Open & Pennsylvania State Collegiate Championships, where Dickinson topped teams from Penn State University, Shippensburg University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, to claim the title.
The three-day tournament had players put their skills to the test in a variety of competitions. The first day of the tournament called for blitz chess, a style known for speed and accuracy. Saturday and Sunday were reserved for longer contests, during which each player participated in five three-hour games. “The time control was about 90 minutes with a five second delay for both players," Spiegel explains. "In theory, if both players used all of their time, the game would be over three hours long, but that rarely happens.”
In the end, it was a mix of precision, tact and strategy that earned Dickinson a championship title in the team's first year. In the future, Spiegel hopes to expand the club's membership and footprint by participating in informal matches with chess teams from other institutions, but above all, he wants to focus on building bonds of friendship and sportsmanship among the team.
Having played chess since he was a child, Spiegel noticed that there had not been a chess team at Dickinson for quite some time, so together with club president Minh Tran '19 (economics, mathematics) he launched the Dickinson College Chess Club. In its first year, the club has grown to five members including Christopher Burrow ’20 (economics), Bryce Haver ’20 (undeclared) and Zolboo Erdenebaatar ’21 (computer science, mathematics), who all participated in the championships—though none of them expected to win the first major tournament in their first official season.
“We showed up at the tournament just wanting to have a good time and wanting to learn a thing or two," Spiegel says. "We turned out to be pretty good compared to the other teams there and ended up winning, which was fantastic.”
Read more about the chess club in The Dickinsonian.
Published April 5, 2018