This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: Courtesy Justin Warren

Searching for Vassar’s Bobby Fischer

As this issue of the eNewsletter reaches your email inbox, Vassar will have just finished hosting the 34th annual Dutchess County chess championship. Justin Warren ’14 is among the competitors, and he knows a thing or two about the game. He’s been playing since the first grade. As an elementary school student in Georgia, his team won the national championship. As a high school student at Hastings High School in New York’s Westchester County, his team earned 3rd and 5th place finishes in the national championship.

Despite Vassar being the physical venue where the Dutchess championship is held, the college hasn’t traditionally been known for its chess playing. “It’s not a big thing,” Warren says. “Yet.” He’s planning to change that.

During his first week on campus at the start of the Fall 2010 semester, Warren attended a meeting of the Vassar-Chadwick Chess Club, a vibrant chess group that is open to the public and has been around since the 1930s, and which meets in Rockefeller on campus. Warren saw a handful of other students there, too. They got around to talking and started meeting informally on Sunday afternoons to play chess.

Now, some eight to ten people show up regularly, and more than 20 are on the email listserve. They’ve even set up competitive matches against Marist (Vassar won the first bout 5-1, with a rematch – at Marist’s request – scheduled to take place as this eNewsletter goes to press). Warren and his peers are hoping to make their student chess club an official, VSA-approved organization.

While balancing his chess game with the rigors of being a Vassar student and a Barefoot Monkey hasn’t been easy, Warren remains committed to the game and its virtues. “Chess can be competitive, or social, or an intellectual problem-solving thing. You can play it fast, or long,” he says. “It’s whatever you want it to be.” – PB

April 2011

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