Perfecting his chess games with practice

To the human mind, the game of chess has an incomprehensible number of possible plays. Within just three moves on each side of the board, there can be nine million different configurations of game pieces. Chess, in these aspects, captivated freshman Aaron Chang as a preschooler and continues to motivate him in his pursuits in competitive chess.

“My first tournament was at Arcadia. I remember losing quite a bit of games since my opponents were much more experienced than I was,” Chang said. “Although my performance was not great I had a thrilling experience and learned a lot from the games I lost.”

Most recently, he placed second among 107 competitors at the 2015 Super State K-8 Championship. In preparation for chess tournaments, Chang takes weekly chess lessons, reads up on techniques and practices through online matches.

Previously, Chang devoted eight hours a week to the game, but since high school started, he now spends four hours a week practicing. He finds that the same focus and determination that he uses in chess are evident in his everyday life.

“It [has] made me more patient and persevering. It takes a lot effort and time just to win one chess game. I have learned from chess to be more detail oriented and to not easily give up,” Chang said. “Also, I’ve learned that life is like a chess game. Every decision you make will significantly impact your future.”

As a sort of pre-game ritual, Chang takes naps in order to place himself in a calm mental state — not exactly what you would expect from a restless thinker who considers all options before making a move.

“[Chess] is not the fun game we all play for leisure. At the professional level, there is actually immense psychological pressure revolving around the board. CA good player should have the ability to overcome this pressure in order to win the game,” Chang said.

Chess is a game that can last from four to six hours. It can thus be both mentally and physically exhausting.

“Chess is such a mentally demanding and intense game as it requires one to have excellent reasoning, logic and calculation skills and [maturity],” Chang said.

Chess players must develop determination to succeed but must also accept failure. Chang, who experiences failures, also knows what it takes to win the game, as seen in his six-hour-long round of the Southern California Open.

“It took a lot of patience and calculation in order to break through my opponent’s defensive bastion. My time was getting low and I was starting to get frustrated. However, I was able to keep my cool and eventually won,” Chang said.

By Angela Zhang, Staff writer

Photo courtesy of Aaron Chang