Chess club wins against master players

Alonso Tacanga

The Matador Chess Club placed second in the U-1800 section during the 25th Annual Amateur Team West tournament Feb. 15-16. The Northridge representatives went up against some of the better chess players in the world.

Jeffrey Cohen, CSUN’s highest-ranked player, is considered “expert” according to the United States Chess Federation’s national ranking system. Though CSUN does not have many other chess players near this ranking, they have been able to individually beat people that on paper were superior to them in skill level.

In the ranking system, beginner players start out with an amateur 1,200 points. If players reach 1,400 points, they are considered C-players. B-Players are those who have reached 1,600 points and players who score more than 1,800 points are A-players. If players score over 2,000 points, they are experts. Beyond those numbers, they are masters and above.

Player can achieve an “International Master” title if they score more points and complete other requirements. The highest of all rankings is the “Grand Master.”

CSUN’s team, which is a mix of B- and C-players, beat A-level players, experts and a master, leading to their second placing in the tournament.

“Chess is combat,” said Glenn Andrews, who serves as the treasurer for CSUN’s official chess club. “Chess is tactics and strategy. It’s a competition of two wills trying to impose themselves upon the other party.”

The Matadors’ chess club was created a year ago, but its members have been recognized at the national level since then.

The team enjoys the competitiveness of the game and uses it to strengthen their ability to focus.

“The more tournaments you play, the more experience you get,” said Jesse Moya, the club’s president and one of its founders. “You get more comfortable on how the system goes.”

Robert Zuchini, vice-president and team captain, said, “I get anxiety,” referring to playing against opponents who sometimes outrank him by 500 points or more.

“Eventually it goes away. When I start winning, the anxiety comes back because when you’re in a winning position,” said Zuchini. “You don’t want to mess it up.”

Zuchini said he has lost the lead and the game a couple of times. But he has managed more upsets than meltdowns.

“It’s like the greatest feeling on Earth,” Zuchini said about his victories when he was in the big underdog position. “It’s like graduating from CSUN with 10 diplomas or something.”

Though a single tournament chess game can potentially last about four hours, there are faster-paced matches called “blitz games.” These games give each player a total of five minutes to try to defeat their rival.

The CSUN chess club is looking for more members and more upsets in upcoming tournaments. Moya said they are planning to go to the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess tournament, also known as the “biggie,” taking place this December.

Moya and Zuchini said they encourage anyone who is interested in playing or learning to play to join the club.

“We usually meet on Wednesdays at the Pub (Sports Bar ‘ Grill in the USU) from 5-7 pm. Then we go to the Freudian (Sip in the USU) and stay there,” said Zuchini, who meets at the public restaurant because his club was not able to get a meeting room this semester.

“You can leave at any time. There’s no set time. Just come and go. We have everything,” said Zuchini.