The Enduring Legacy of Chess

by Izaak Garcia

It’s a timeless yet ever-changing game—
with almost unlimited ways to play.

Moves. Counter-moves. Moves to the countermoves. Dominating space. Thinking one, two,
three steps ahead of your opponent. Always
looking through the ranks of pawns, knights,
and bishops for the next attack on the king.
This is the age-old game that is chess, and
since it was invented, few games have come
close to it in terms of adaptation and finesse.
With countless strategies available for use
by the player and hundreds of thousands of
variations under each strategy, chess offers
anyone who learns its rules almost unlimited
ways to play the game.

Throughout chess’s long history, the
game has touched almost every single country
on the planet, heralding international masters
and grandmasters (the highest rank a chess
player can achieve) across the globe. From
the formidable Russian dynasty of world
champions such as Alexander Alekhine and
Gary Kasparov, to the American and Mexican
geniuses Bobby Fischer and José Capablanca,
and now the five-time world champion Magnus
Carlson from Norway, players can arise from
just about anywhere in the world.

Chess is not just a game of memorizing
tactics, but also one of adaptation. With
each individual player bringing their own
techniques to the table and the game’s
preferred strategies changing immensely over
time, it is imperative that every player adapts
their approach to their opponent’s strategies.

Take Alexander Alekhine for example.
An absolutely phenomenal grandmaster and
reigning world champion from 1927 to 1935
and 1937 to 1946, Alekhine was not just known
for his chess prowess, but also for his ability
to adapt and play in complex positions that
appeared less common. “Alekhine’s Defense”
(named for the grandmaster) was a new
kind of opening move, meant to immediately
create pressure on the white pieces and force
the opposing player into a more complicated
position, similar to the playstyle of Alekhine.

Other players, like fellow world
champion José Capablanca, took a different
approach to the game. Instead of purposefully
constructing complex positions for himself
and his opponents, Capablanca would simplify
the game by attacking pieces to remove them
from the chessboard while sacrificing his own
pieces (known as trading a piece). More often
than not, by the end of his games, there would
be few pieces left on the board, quickly sending
the game into a phase called the endgame.
This is where Capablanca would shine,
expertly winning his games in a calm and
collected fashion.

When viewed from the perspective of
masters and grandmasters alike, the game of
chess can seem daunting and hard to learn. But
chess isn’t just for them. Anyone can learn to
play, no matter their skill level, and learning the
game provides a great opportunity to introduce
it to friends and have them play, too. As you
become more familiar with the game, you can
add different opening moves to your arsenal
of knowledge, as well as theory on how to play
the endgame. Chess continually expands and
evolves, and now more than ever is a perfect
time to start learning something new!

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

About Qaasaani Little

Qaasaani Little is a freshman at Richwoods High School. Little is a member of Student Leadership Team and Student Council. She has loved art for as long as she can remember, including painting and drawing. Little’s artwork is for sale. She also loves animals, after school activities, and is inspired by her mom for always pushing her to do my best.