Brothers take home first, second at chess competition

Mar 3, 2020 | Inside the Bubble, News, Sports

On Jan. 12, brothers Steven H. ’22 and Daniel H. ’21 participated in the 2020 U.S. Junior Congress, a national youth chess competition, winning first and second place in their respective brackets.

The brothers also won the National Under 20 Top School Title for Nueva, bringing a total of three trophies for themselves and the school. This marks the fifth trophy won for Nueva by the team since its founding in the 2018-2019 school year.

Steven and Daniel have both been attending tournaments since kindergarten, progressing from county level to state level, and finally to the national level. Steven recalls attending many major tournaments by the time he had reached sixth grade.

“There was one tournament last year which was super stressful because I had an essay due between the fourth and fifth rounds,” Steven said. “Time management becomes super important to plan around tourneys.” 

 Steven and Daniel both mentioned the extreme mental workload of attending a tournament, and the unique mindset that it creates. 

“It’s all-consuming,” Daniel said, describing the headspace he gets into while playing. “You are locked in.” 

The strict time limit of chess means that players need to spend every second thinking about their next move, requiring a laser-focused headspace and thoughts of nothing but the game. Daniel recalled a five-and-a-half-hour game he once played where he needed to keep a constant state of focus for the entire duration of the match.

“There’s a kind of chess where you slowly vice-grip your opponent to death,” Daniel said. It’s beautiful.” 

Daniel also runs the Chess club, which meets Mondays and Thursdays in room 1206.