The Beginning of a Chess Revolution at YU

By: David Yagudayev  |  May 9, 2023

By David Yagudayev, Science & Technology Editor

On April 24, 2023, the Yeshiva University Chess Association (YUCA), helped host an organized competitive USCF rated tournament at Yeshiva College featuring 10 competitors, its first in a very long time. After four arduous and tense rounds of competitive play, Ephraim Balsan emerged as victor of the tournament with 4.0/4.0 points. Tied for 2nd place were Pinchus Cohen and Ean Fish with 3.0/3.0 each. At the end of the tournament, GM Semyon Lomassov decided to give a blindfold simul playing six people in a row. No one thought he could do it, but he surprised us all, as he began to defeat his opponents in gradual succession until no one remained. At least 15 random YU students showed up and began watching the event and the exhibition that occurred after in utter disbelief. Many had not even known that a chess club existed on campus until that day. 

There is a demand for chess events and active participation on campus. After this event, despite the busy week in which it was held, there were many inquiries about when the next event would be held and how they could become involved. 

However, this is only the beginning of the chess revolution YUCA plans to bring on campus. When I met fellow incoming students GM Semyon Lomassov and NM Bryan Weisz at the Fall 2022 orientation, I knew that our collaboration as a team and shared interests as avid chess players and fans would revitalize a dying chess scene at YU. Thankfully, they agreed and from then, we began working on making our vision come to fruition. We created the “Chess Learning Program,” in which chess players of varied skill levels can receive guidance on learning on how to improve their game in class-style format from Semyon, Bryan and I. Soon enough word spread, and people began to attend these lessons, fitting time out of their busy schedules to learn the beautiful game. As of today, across all WhatsApp chats, YUCA has over 150 YU students following the latest international chess news and events happening on campus. 

YUCA has great plans for the next academic year. We plan on hosting monthly rated and unrated chess tournaments, chess lessons, as well as delivering up to date recaps on the latest chess events in the world. There are other plans, but we don’t want to announce everything. That will ruin the surprise… 

I hope that by writing this article, I will be able to reach out to more of the YU student body. Whether you play chess or not, come join and attend an event or two- it’s all free of charge. Trust me, you will have fun and meet new people in the process.