Stevenson High Schoolers Teach Their Successors
After teaching chess classes in the local Chinese school for almost two years, Alex Bian, captain of the Stevenson High School Chess Team, realized demand exceeded the space.
And so in early 2016 was born King’s Knights Chess Club, founded by Bian and his Stevenson teammates.
King’s Knights runs annual spring, summer, and fall sessions, each consisting of eight to ten weekly Sunday night meetings that culminate in an awards ceremony, pizza party, and special challenges against the coaches.
The club is run entirely by the volunteer high school players with a little help from parent volunteers. A small session fee paid by members covers space costs, snacks and awards.
Alex priases the other coaches including Gurasees Bajaj, Jack Xiao, Rahul Dhiman, Allen Guo, Miranda Liu, Adit Ghosh, Kavin Lavari, Shanky Bala, Conrad Oberhaus, Adam Wallach, and Andrew Luo. Says Alex, "Without them, KKCC would not be possible. I don't convey it enough, but I truly appreciate all of their help amid the chaos of high school." He gives a special thanks to Gurasees Bajaj for stepping in when he was busy.
Each week, kids are paired to play tournament-style games, accumulating toward a final score at the end of the session. The coaches from the Stevenson team teach group lessons in skill levels ranging from beginning basics to higher level strategy and tactics.
The club has a diverse age range of members, the youngest in kindergarten and the oldest in junior high. Through their experiences in the club, kids have become USCF members and attended chess tournaments locally and nationally, with some particularly eager ones transitioning into private lessons to learn more.
While the club is a place to start, to learn, to compete and to be challenged intelligently, it is really a venue for kids to come together and play for the fun of the game.
Ben Chen, a high-achieving seasoned player, once even cut his last tournament round short in order to come to the club. In the end, that’s what King’s Knights is about; kids enjoy the snacks, awards, and winning, but most importantly, they make friends and fun.
More than 40 students are frequently participating.
Even the coaches seem to learn from the club. Alex, whose rating recently eclipsed 2400, says: “I've learned how difficult chess really is. I've forgotten most of my lessons from when I was much younger, but the lessons were valuable nonetheless. They fostered an understanding which slowly becoming ingrained in my mind."
Alex reflects, "When I first began teaching, I wasn't sure where to start. What's more important to understand for someone brand new to chess? Is it development, checkmating, tactics? After that dilemma, I truly began to appreciate everyone who helped me through that initial beginner stage.”
Editor's note: Club co-founder and instructor Alex Bian earned the 2017 US Junior Open Championship this summer in Minnesota. He currently ranks in the top 10 in the nation for 17-year olds.