Prefects host Chess tournament


Alex Dinh/Chronicle

The chess tournament featured 56 students. Colin Kneafsy ’23 advanced through four rounds and ultimately defeated Jake Wiczyk in the tournament’s final match, securing the $50 gift card grand prize.

Alexander Dinh

Prefect Council and Chess Club partnered to host a school-wide chess tournament on the quad during the week of Jan. 17. 56 students participated in the tournament, and after the first four rounds, 16 advanced to the knockout stages. After four knockout rounds Colin Kneafsey ’23 won the tournament and received a $50 gift card.

Kneafsey said he appreciated playing the tournament where the school community could watch the competition.

“I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the games,” Kneafsey said. “Playing on the quad in front of all of my classmates added to the pressure of winning each game and ultimately winning the tournament was really rewarding.”

Chess Club Leader Eric Vartany ’24 said the tournament helped the school community to bond.

“It was super exciting to host Harvard-Westlake’s first school-wide chess tournament in years,” Vartany said. “It was both fun and competitive, which everyone enjoyed. We hope to make this a tradition that will share the joy of chess with the school community. I anticipate even more participation in future tournaments.”

Sophomore Prefect Eric Lee ’25 said Prefect Council noticed the popularity of chess among his peers, which inspired the organization of the tournament.

“Recently, we noticed that chess has been gaining a lot of popularity among the student body,” Lee said. “I noticed a lot of my close friends playing chess and, while the initial suggestion wasn’t mine, there [are] definitely prefects on the council who are pretty passionate about chess.”

Senior Prefect Rowen Jen ’23 said Prefect Council decided to host the tournament in person to create a sense of togetherness.

“One of the big debates we had over the chess tournament was whether we should do it online or in-person,” Jen said. “I think [the] decision to do it where it could really be a community centered thing [and] to do in-person boards was totally the right decision and contributed to the spectacle.”

After being eliminated during the quarter finals of the tournament, Elliot Litchman ’23 commentated on the semifinals and finals on HWTV with Math Teacher Laffite Laberto-Egan. Litchtman said the tournament and the conversation that it has sparked have been a great way to bond for beginners and experts alike.

“The chess tournament has brought out an amazing sense of community, both among the more experienced chess players and the people who have been inspired to try their first few chess games on the boards in the lounge,” Litchman said. “As fun as the tournament itself is, perhaps the best moments are in the aftermath of each round when participants and spectators alike take advantage of the chess boards and newly spurred chess enthusiasm to sneak in a quick game or two, show off a cool gambit and relive the most innovative tactics from their most recent tournament game.”