Chess player Jared Schwartz attributes his proficiency in chess to “intense learning at an early age”. Pointing out that chess is its own language, Jared said, “Learning a language at 40 is hard where learning one at 6 is easier.”
The seventh grader at Solomon Schechter Upper School in Hartsdale said he first learned to play in a kindergarten class taught by Sunil Weeramantry, executive director of the NSCF. “I enjoyed playing with my friends even though I was losing most games.”
By first grade, Jared knew he could excel at chess. His class was taught by Jon Rigai (see our instructors pages for bios of some of Jared's teachers), he participated in the after-school chess club and also joined the weekly NSCF chess club at the Girl Scout House in Scarsdale. He started playing in tournaments, initially just in the Saturday club and then in the NSCF Grand Prix. By second grade he had a rating of 1166 after winning first place at a tournament at Greenwich Country Day School (see picture at right). “When you first start playing in tournaments you can go up (in rating) pretty fast.” The next few tournaments weren’t so successful and he saw his rating drop substantially. “I was a little unhappy, but I still liked playing. Learning to lose is a hard thing sometimes. I remember one game (where) I was playing pretty well. I made a silly mistake and it was a hard loss. You have to just recognize it and move on.”
In 3rd and 4th grade, after school was taught by Danny Rade. In 3rd grade, Jared took fourth place in the Westchester County Scholastic Chess Championship. The summer between 3rd and 4th grade, Jared attended a week-long chess camp with Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov, then, in 4th grade, he got a dedicated coach. George Alexopolous helped Jared increase from his rating of 832 at the end of the 3rd grade to 1278 at the end of 4th. He competed against many higher rated players from across the country in the USCF Grade Nationals in Orlando. And he finished second in the 4th grade section of the 2014-15 NSCF Grand Prix.
After George took a full-time job in New Jersey, Jared was again looking for a coach, this time signing on with Chris Welcome who helped Jared increase his rating to 1480 by the end of 5th grade. He won the 5th grade section of the 2015-16 Grand Prix.
In 6th grade, continuing to work with Chris, he found he was again having to teach himself how to handle losses. “I was demoted to the Championship section (for the NSCF Grand Prix tournaments) and was feeling a little bad. But then I won 4 out of 4 at my next tournament and was back (in Future Masters).” Again, Jared had chosen not to focus on the loss but to learn from the experience. That year he went to the New York State Scholastic Championships: “I beat a student rated over 1700 in round 4, which built my confidence quite a bit.”
In addition to chess, Jared really enjoys geography. “In 6th grade, in the Geography Bee, I came second in the entire school.” Because geography is not taught as a dedicated subject, he said the age or grade of the student you are competing against doesn’t matter as much as in subjects where someone has been exposed to more information in their classes. “Just because someone has a year of school on you, it doesn’t matter. Chess is the same.” One thing he doesn’t do as well with is reading, where he says a lot of school reading is focused on fiction. “I like to read facts. I had a book about different countries. I wrote out all the countries in the world in order of population and then I tried to memorize them. I looked at the list a lot. When I had my mom ask me, I could recall the first 40 countries.”
Jared is an honors student in math and in his spare time likes to watch science videos. While he’d like to one day become a grandmaster, Jared says he doesn’t read chess books. “Mostly it’s just working with my coach and playing.”
Another passion for Jared is getting more chess instruction in Solomon Schechter and he’s enlisted his family to help lobby for that. The Schwartz family encouraged the school to offer chess as a middle school elective (again with the NSCF’s Chris Wellcome leading the class). Jared says the motivation is to increase the school’s understanding of the value of chess so it gets more support and becomes ingrained in the culture. “I don’t want chess to end at Solomon Schechter upon my graduation.”
With inspiring students like Jared promoting it, we are confident chess will continue to thrive at Solomon Schechter for many years to come.
Bonus: The NSCF asked Jared for one his favorite games that we could publish on the site. Here is the one he picked, along with his commentary. You can play through the game by clicking here.
I am playing white against Calvin Golimbu. At this time I was rated 1479 and he was rated 1036.
1 e4 d5 2 Nc3 d4 3 Nb5 e5 4 Nf3 c6 5 Na3 Bd6 6 Nc4 f6 7 c3 c5
8 Qa4+ (helps for b4 my next move) Nc6 (Bd7 seems good)
9 b4 cxb4 (he thinks I’ll take back, but no)
10 cxd4 Nge7 (xd4 allows me to attack the pinned knight again through Nxd4 enforcing a move like Nge7 but if you do take d4 you leave a pawn on f6 making taking d4 seem defensive but probably better)
11 xe5 xe5
12 Nfxe5 (the pin is haunting him) 0-0
13 Nxc6 Nxc6
14 Nxd6 (my move may have worked but I must be careful to where I put my bishop because if not Qd4 is devastating) Qxd6
15 Bc4+ Be6
16 Qb3 (looks like a mistake because on Qd5 nothing can stop losing the rook and castling. This isn’t the case because after Bxe6+ Kh8 0-0 Qxa1 Bb2 traps the queen forcing Qxf1+ Kxf1. It will be Queen Bishop Bishop vs. rook rook knight bishop and you are up a pawn) Bxc4
17 Qxc4+ Kh8 18 0-0 Ne5 19 Qe2 Rf6
20 Bb2 (an amazing bishop) Rh6 (he plans Nf3+….. Qxh2#)
21 h3 Rg6 22 f4 (drive that knight) Nf7
23 d4 (blocks bishop but activates center control) Qd7
24 Qf3 Qc6 25 d5 Qc5+ 26 Kh1 Qc2 27 Rab1 a5 28 f5 Rh6 (Rook off the “g” file is useful) 29 Qg3 Rag8
30 Rfc1 (this position is winning for white now blacks best shot is sacrificing the rook on h3 which is the move requested by Stockfish! My opponent makes a bad move allowing mate in 3) Qxe4??
31 Bxg7+ Rxg7 32 Rc8+ Rg8 33 Rxg8#