Highly-ranked Life Master David Katz simultaneously plays the WHS Chess Club


Photo by Taylor Addis

Senior chess club member Jake Root makes a move against Master Chess Player David Katz

On Nov. 22, WHS’ recently revamped Chess Club had the opportunity to play a simultaneous exhibition against accredited Life Master David Katz. This unique event consists of a chess player of a high rank playing matches against multiple opponents all at the same time.

Father of WHS senior Asher Katz, David Katz holds a rank of 2200 and his impressive title of Life Master is one awarded by the United States Chess Federation (USCF). According to David Katz, this recognition requires one to hold a rank of at least 2200 for a minimum of 300 tournament chess games.

Katz played chess from an early age, taking after his parents with his interest and love for the game. “I played my first tournament at six, and when I was in college, I got pretty aggressive and was playing quite a bit,” Katz said. He recalled a few crucial victories in matches against international masters in the late 1990s which contributed to him attaining his accredited title.

A crowd of around 30 students attended the after-school simultaneous event to play against Katz, who impressively beat all of his opponents in roughly two hours, with two of the matches ending in stalemates.

The WHS club itself dates back to the ‘90s, but hasn’t been active for many years. Recounting the history of the club, Advisor Louis DeAngelo said, “About four years ago, we held a chess tournament in Project ‘79. Several of the students [asked to] do more with chess, and it turned into the rebirth of the WHS chess club.”

After taking over for the graduated prior president, WHS senior Leo Carle noticed the lack of chess play in the club during the pandemic due to an inability to meet and play matches. “I took initiative and was able to start using chess.com online so people could play. This year, [it’s a club] of almost zero commitment; you can come late, you can leave early.”

The flexibility of the club, which meets once a week, encourages casual play for students of all experience levels. Carle himself admits that he is not the best player in the club, but he maintains that experience is not necessary for members to enjoy themselves. Fellow chess player and junior Justin Lipschutz said, “I came here with some previous experience, but never had a class where I learned formally how to play.”

Both Carle and Lipschutz also credited the club’s recent growth to the release of the popular television series, The Queen’s Gambit.

This year, the club hopes to host more events, especially after the high turnout at the simultaneous match in November. These experiences aim to introduce players to the competitive side of the game. DeAngelo said, “We’re hoping to set up a Union County Intramural Chess League. In December [we] have a Westfield versus Cranford inaugural match, and we’re looking to do things with other schools in the area throughout the school year.”