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Meet SIG’s 1st Place NACCL Chess Team

Over the past six weeks, SIG’s chess team has been competing in the North American Corporate Chess League’s first online tournament. This online league brought together teams from 43 companies across North America and allowed for chess players of all skill levels to engage in some friendly competition, as they played head-to-head against players from other companies each week. The final games were played last night. In the final night, Team SIG leapfrogged from third to first place to win the entire tournament.

We sat down with some of our team members to learn about how they got interest in chess, what they find most interesting about the game, and a bit about their play style.

Brian

How did you get interested in chess?

I started playing when I was around 5. My older sister taught me a bunch of board games, but chess just stuck out to me as a kid.

How would you describe your chess style?

Aggressive/tactical almost to a fault; positional awareness is something I need to work on.

What chess variants are your favorite?

Bughouse is probably my favorite since it’s so dynamic and fast-paced/time-sensitive. I’m also a fan of Chess960, but not enough people play it at the moment. A lesser known variant is Monster Chess where White starts with only 4 pawns and a king versus black’s normal army, but White gets to make 2 moves every turn. It’s harder to play Black, but with careful play it should be a win; the novelty wears off after a while, but I definitely recommend trying it a few times. It’s a fun way to switch it up!

Do you prefer playing online or in person?

They both have their merits; in person is more fun for the social aspect and overall experience, but you have a way larger pool to play against online. Playing the same person who plays the same opening every time can get boring, which sometimes forces us to artificially switch our openings to something we don’t really know.

Delen

When did you first start playing chess?

My father taught me how to play as a toddler. He’s a chess master who is also a teacher and author, so there was no avoiding chess for me. But he never put pressure on me to play. The most fun I had was in my high school days where I convinced my friends to play and we ended up having a very strong chess team (ranked 2nd in Pennsylvania).

What is your favorite chess variant?

The most fun chess variant is bughouse. It is 2v2 and you pass every piece that you capture to your teammate to put on their board. Very fun and fast-paced. Also popular to play in between rounds at tournaments.

Do you prefer playing online or in person?

In person is more fun due to being able to talk and joke around, but it is hard to beat the convenience of online play.

John

How did you get interested in chess?

My parents taught me when I was around 5, but I was introduced to the tournament/formal chess world much later when I was 14. I have always loved the game, but once I made the transition to formal chess training, I could hardly stop myself from playing.

How do you typically approach the start of a game?

Since I’m a club level player, and I don’t participate high stakes tournaments, I like to choose less played openings like King’s Gambit in White or Pirc Defense in Black, to throw my opponent off. They are handy in creating edge in the speed chess games. If it is a more significant game, I like to stick with lower-risk openings like Queen’s Gambit, Italian in White, and Sicilian in Black.

How would you describe your chess style?

I try to keep the game fun. Since I’m relatively weaker on opening and endgame theory, I like to complicate things and take my opponent to a tough middlegame and obtain edge in the middlegame. I’m definitely a big fan of attacking, tactics, and sacrifices.

Do you prefer playing online or in person?

If it is speed chess (bullet or blitz), I like to play online, since moving the pieces and hitting the clock can get messy in person. It is also easier to find similar level players online, but nothing gives the rush and depth of thinking as in a classical tournament match in person.

Justin

When did you first start playing chess?

My uncle taught me to play chess when I was in kindergarten, and I first started playing tournaments in 5th grade. At that age, getting to win trophies was a big incentive!

How would you describe your chess style?

I would describe my style as positional and trying to avoid mistakes and getting attacked.

Do you like playing chess online or in person better?

I think playing online is more fun. In person chess is more serious and tense. The games are longer and more draining, you sit directly across from your opponent while doing battle over the board, but it’s more satisfying when you ultimately destroy them.

Thanks to our players for spending some time talking with us. You can see how each game played out on NAACL’s blog. A big congratulations to Team SIG on the win!

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