Chess Resurgence at RMHS

RMHS students participating virtually in the final tournament of the chess season losing to Burlington 27-20.

RMHS students participating virtually in the final tournament of the chess season losing to Burlington 27-20.

In the past three months, the game of chess has been booming. Students across RMHS have been playing each other online using websites like and In addition to the rising popularity of chess, a club at RMHS has created an opportunity for students to play competitively.

The game of chess has been easily accessible for people to make a free account and start playing either with friends or online players. Students around school can be seen playing with each other in class.

Dorian Anglade (’23) said, “Everywhere I go, there’s somebody playing chess.” 

Chess has been viewed as a nerdy complicated game but now is viewed as fun and competitive so anyone can get into it.  Nicholas Bartilini (’23) said, “I think people just never thought of it as a game where they could learn, I think they thought it’s too complicated or nerdy.”

It’s an exciting game–it really is.

— Mr. McGowan


If students like playing chess online but like playing more competitively, they can join the RMHS chess club. The club meets every Tuesday afterschool. Players can watch or compete in small tournaments against players close to their skill level. They also compete against other schools. The chess club helps students who want to get better and join a close community. Mr. McGowan, a teacher and leader of the chess club said, “Kids get very competitive playing against other schools and each other, but the community is very close”.

Why do people love chess?

Players all have different interests and reasons for loving the game. Anglade plays chess because he likes the feeling of improving. Others like Nick Belous (’24), another chess club member, said, “I love to compete against others and win.” Every player has their own reason why they love playing the game. 

According to Anglade, “It triggers their creativity and makes them want to be better. You meet a lot of interesting people. I’ve made a lot of friends playing chess.” 

People are fascinated while even watching chess matches. Viewers can give tips to the players after the match.

Mr. McGowan said, “It’s an exciting game–it really is. “Exciting” that sounds dumb, but watching a good chess match is very exciting, especially when you get down to the end and you try to predict moves and say what you would do yourself, but as far as the school goes it’s a way to get kids to meet other kids and travel and it’s just a good experience.”

Experience Levels

While there are a variety of years of experience of the people who play chess, there is one common thing that most players agree on, and that is the fact that you can start playing chess anytime and it is not dependent on your age. 

Edward Matthews (’23) a member of the chess club, said, “I was in chess club this year, but played chess for like a year or two.” 

Anglade had said he started playing in “first or second grade when I was 6.”

This shows the variety of experience levels in the chess club itself.

Belous said, We’ve got just learning how to play, from day one. And then we’ve also got people who have been playing for a while. So, a great variety of players, you know–great community.”

Age doesn’t matter in chess–anyone can start at any age or experience level.

Chess Club members at a recent weekly session.

Online vs In-Person

In-person chess will forever be the most common way to play chess. However, the creation of online chess has improved the chess community by making it more accessible to everybody. Playing against artificial intelligence is an option if that is desired.

Even with the ability to play chess anywhere, many players still say that online is not a good way to play chess, as it takes away the ability to get a feel for your opponent face to face. 

Belous ranks above 99.8% of rapid players(rapid is a game of chess with a relatively limited time control, each side only getting 15 minutes), and he prefers in-person chess over online chess. 

“I feel like there’s a big difference, over the board, when you actually get to see the other person.  There’s a big mental game, too,” Belous said.

I like going up against my friends…challenging them.

— Nick Belous ('24)

In contrast, Bartalini highlights the accessibility advantage of online chess saying, “I think it’s better online because your friend can invite you to play chess anywhere, whether it’s like your phone or computer, you can play anywhere you want. So I think it’s better because online is a lot more accessible.”

No matter the age or language, anybody can compete in a chess match. It is extremely versatile.

Chess brings people together, and as Belous puts it, “I like going up against my friends, you know, challenging them. It’s the competitive game that brings two people together and something we can all do.”