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New chess club prepares students to compete

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

With over 30 members, the Rollins Chess Society has been gaining traction since its creation in August 2020. 

Jiya Manchanda (‘25), president of the Rollins Chess Society, is a mathematics and philosophy major with a focus on behavioral decision science. She said that “creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration are the principles that underpin successful ideation and innovation in all sectors, especially decision-making.” 

“I’m interested in learning what drives people—how they think,” Manchanda said.

Manchanda played chess competitively in high school, and she longed to reconnect with the game and the community when she entered Rollins. 

“It surprised me that Rollins didn’t already have [a chess club] seeing as how so many people are interested,” Manchanda said.

Dr. Allen H. Kupetz, former Rollins professor and resident entrepreneur, is the club’s advisor. Kupetz said that he volunteered his services as faculty advisor because his mother taught him to play chess over 50 years ago, and he has been playing ever since. 

“My most important role is to support the student leaders; clubs are about giving students new leadership opportunities,” Kupetz said. “But I’ll help with fundraising, too—we already found a donor for our first 10 chess sets. Because of the strong student leadership, we have already seen a lot of interest in coming to meetings and playing [with] each other. I hope the enthusiasm spreads to all students in all majors.”

Kupetz is inspired by English Chess Grandmaster Simon Williams, who said that “the beauty of chess is it can be whatever you want it to be. It transcends language, age, race, religion, politics, gender, and socioeconomic background. Whatever your circumstances, anyone can enjoy a good fight to the death over the chess board.”

“While chess is combative by nature—after all, you are trying to capture your opponent’s king—it is a social outlet for people of all ages,” Kupetz said. “I hope we can have a faculty vs. student tournament and an annual Rollins Chess Championship open to students, faculty, and staff.”

Manchanda said that she is excited to train club members so that they can start competing in the spring semester.

John Reynoso (‘25), vice president of the club, said he is excited that Rollins students can “finally have that chance to play chess in an environment that is suitable, [while also] introducing and teaching new players to the game of chess.”

The Rollins Chess Society is organizing many events this year, including a student vs. faculty/staff tournament, a conference with a Rollins alum chess-champion, a movie night on Mills Lawn, and a collaboration with the Lucy Cross Center for workshops on women in chess. 

The club’s first practice and training session will be Nov. 30. The time and location are to be determined.

Interested students can contact the Rollins Chess Society by visiting its Instagram page: @rollinschess.

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