Chess team moves into competitions against other schools


The Baldwin chess club President, Joey Priano, studies his next move.

Fionna McKenzie and Hannah Black

When students think of competition sports, football and basketball come to mind, but Baldwin’s chess team has started taking part in competitions as well.

The chess team’s record for the season is currently three wins, two losses, and two ties. Baldwin chess is currently ranked fourth out of nine schools.

The sponsor of the chess club is gifted teacher Jared Hoffman, who put the club together after seeing students interested in chess after the release of the Netflix limited series The Queen’s Gambit.

“I saw a lot of kids interested in chess after The Queen’s Gambit came out and I also found that after-school activities are good places to socialize,” Hoffman said.

He also had played chess as a child, so that made it easier to help with the club.

“I started playing chess a lot when I was in second or third grade,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman has been running the chess club for three years and this is the first year the club is competing against other schools. So far the team members have chosen to play all of their matches virtually, although they have the option to play in person.

Senior Joey Priano, president of the chess team, got his start with the Baldwin club by attending one club meeting and being encouraged by a club officer. He had started playing at age 8, and got more serious about it as he got older.

“Chess has a great community. It’s fun playing with friends and I like how casual it is,” Priano said.

Priano prepares for chess tournaments by using online chess games and listening to music to get in the right mindset.

Junior Billy Ericksson is a member of the chess team who joined this year. He has always been interested in the game, starting at a young age. Eriksson uses online chess games to help develop his game.

“Just go into it and play my normal opening and see where it goes,” Eriksson said, describing his approach to competitions.

Senior Jacob Gallagher joined the chess team after Hoffman introduced him to the club. Gallagher started playing chess in middle school but did not get serious until high school. He prefers to play in online competitions but normally plays in person.

The key to learning chess is sticking with it and picking the basics, Priano said.

“The first couple weeks of knowing chess is really slow and it’s really difficult. It’s getting over the first hump and getting to learn different tactics and plays,” Priano said.

Gallagher agreed.

“Keep with it,” he said. “I recommend trying to take skills from other good players.”