The room buzzes with intense concentration. At tables around the room, NCHS students stare intently at their opponents across the chessboard. Sophomore George Wang and freshmen Grant Wang (not related), pace about the room offering advice.
Grant believes his passion for chess wasn’t an instant love. “At the beginning I was interested, but I wasn’t practicing enough, I didn’t have enough patience to practice in the beginning,” Grant said.
Grant has noticed that improving in school and improving at chess are linked. “The fact is that with chess I actually became better at school itself, and as my study habits became better, my chess habits became better,” he said.
George and Grant match off during their Wednesday practice. Photo by Meredith Luchs
George feels he discovered his natural talent almost immediately, which he improved upon with a diligent work
ethic. “It was really easy to get really good. Within a year, I improved a lot,” he said.
George became hooked on the feeling of winning.“I really like winning, everybody likes winning,” he said. “Winning is a huge mental boost because it means that you’re doing well.”
George worked to get involved in competitions on his own. “I got a ranking by USCF (the United States Chess Federation), the ranking is by age, so within two years my brother and I made the top 100 lists,” he said. However, George didn’t let the losses bring him down. “When you lose, all that means is that you have to learn from it.” he said. “I do get a bit frustrated sometimes, but you just try to play your best and mistakes happen.”
Grant hopes to bring the game of chess to NCHS.“Chess has helped me with academics because the game requires thinking for extended periods of time,” he said. “It’s helped me study for longer periods of time without getting distracted.”
George and Grant are looking to set up a friendly match at St. Lukes, though, Grant believes tensions may heat up. “They call it a ‘friendly match’ but when we beat them it won’t be such a ‘friendly’ match anymore.” Grant said.