Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa West Chess Club Builds Community & Passion


“One thing that really sets our club apart is that the people in our club are very motivated to learn on our own. We all have the same passion [for chess],” says club president Harrison Liang. “So compared to some other clubs, if you’re just doing it for the extracurricular, this is more where everyone’s interested. I feel we have a very strong community that we can just, you know, help each other.” Every Thursday, over twenty-five kids from Wauwatosa West and Whitman Middle School meet to play chess and learn more strategies.

The Chess Club was first started just after 2020 by senior Harrison Liang. This year, English teacher Martin Gross has taken on the role of advisor. “I just enjoy the competition, the friendly competition between everyone that is going and the comradery of the chess. Even though I don’t know too much about it, just seeing the competitive energy and determination between students at once is a great thing to see,” Gross said.    

The Chess Club meets once a week. They also plan on broadcasting a Twitch stream on Mondays that digs deeper into advanced topics. During meetings, participants meet to play games, engage in friendly competition, and just have fun. While individual games are played, different lessons concerning the basics and strategies of chess are taught starting at 4:00 pm. These are taught by their coach, Evan Seghers. “He is like a pro, or at least as close to a pro you can get,” said senior David Miller. Seghers came from Whitman to West when the clubs merged two years ago. Miller is fond of the club’s merging. “It’s really nice because we get to have them grow with the Chess Club so that by the time they make it to high school they’ll have a better team put together.” 

Sophomore Derius Lucas says, “The community here is amazing, absolutely amazing. You can see the  diversity, boys, girls, just anyone.” Although the Tosa West Chess Club values diversity, chess remains a very male-dominated game. In 2020, only 14% of all U.S Chess Federation players were female. Since its creation, chess has faced serious challenges surrounding gender inclusivity. In 1962, American Grandmaster and World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer stated that “women are not so smart” and “terrible chess players.” Similar quotes have been made as recent as 2020, when Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy claimed that “men are the superior players,” and that women “have to accept it.” Nonetheless, women have boldly begun to speak up against this behavior. On August 11th, 2023, a pivotal moment in chess history occurred when FIDE (International Chess Federation) released a statement regarding a letter signed by over one hundred female chess players speaking out against sexist violence and behavior. 

Liang playing chess.

“I think the lack of female representation in the Chess Club probably has to do with chess history,” Liang says. “At the start, most players you knew were male … I think people started viewing that males were better than women at chess. I think we can fix this problem by exposing people, especially women, to this game at a younger age so people don’t think that sex has a role in this when anyone has the skills to be good at chess.” Liang also wants people to start chess regardless of ability: “You don’t have to be good, you can come just to learn the game. I also think we can start promoting chess to everyone instead of just people who have more experience, which is more likely to be male students.”

Although chess club struggles with female representation, it is working towards getting more girls to join the sport. The strong community and intellectual challenges of chess club sets it apart from other extracurricular activities.  

If you’re interested in joining chess club, email [email protected] or [email protected] 

All data used in this article was sourced from Does Gender Make Chess Skill?  By Joonyoung Heo, in The Exonian.


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Avianah Zarnowski
Avianah Zarnowski is a freshman at Tosa West. This is her first year writing, photographing, and editing for the Tosa Compass. Outside of student journalism, her passions lie in dance and music.
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