Large cutout chess pieces and tables filled with chess mats greeted students as they walked into the J.C. William’s Center atrium Sunday night for a chess tournament.
The tournament, hosted by Chess Club, began at 6:30 and featured over a dozen initial participants who paired up to compete for a handcrafted European chess set.
All participants who placed during the tournament were awarded gift baskets filled with various foods. First place got first pick at the basket and successive players chose in descending order.
Freshman Brian LaFata, vice president of the club, opened the night in prayer, then explained a few rules before setting the matches in motion.
LaFata explained the timing of the games, which allowed 20 minutes of play time for each player with a five-second delay.
LaFata also explained the “European point system.” In this system, the winner of a match is awarded one point and the loser zero. If the match results in a tie, both participants are awarded half a point.
Quiet music played over the matches as students went head-to-head in seven rounds to earn points toward the first-place prize.
Among the participants was alumnus Anthony Carlsen, who graduated in 2002. Carlsen said he is distantly related to chess world champion Magnus Carlsen.
Anthony Carlsen said he was there to have fun and play chess. He related stories of Magnus Carlsen as a humble figure who enjoyed playing chess.
Another participant was freshman Rudy Bohm. A lot of matches were close fought, Bohm said.
“It was an even match throughout, but (my opponent) outsmarted me at the end,” Bohm said. “There were some tight spots where I found the one move that saved me from checkmate, but at the end I couldn’t find the moves.”
The last two rounds of the tournament were “blitz rounds” where each player’s time went down to three minutes each. If a player’s time ran out, they lost the match.
At the end of the night, senior Tomas Lapas and freshman Cameron Messier had the highest scores of 4 and 4 1/2 points respectively. The two engaged in one final match to determine the winner of the night.
Lapas and Messier were allowed to choose their gift basket before taking part in the tie-breaking match. The rest of the prize winners chose their baskets and gathered to watch the match.
After a long match, Lapas was victorious. He complimented his opponent Messier for his talent.
“Cameron Messier is a very, very intelligent guy … he’s a quick thinker,” Lapas said. “He beat me in the first game, so I was trying to not lose again. … Luckily, I didn’t let it slip and I was able to beat him.”
LaFata said that Chess Club has a mix of skill levels in their members with some enjoying learning the game and some more advanced players seeking out competition with each other.
“The goal would be to have people who are just semi-good at chess come and enjoy some chess games,” LaFata said.
Entry in the tournament cost $2. The Chess Club raised $38 to donate to St. Peter Catholic Church in downtown Steubenville.
Chess Club meets Thursdays at 7 p.m. in CODA 205.