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Semester I Special: Jacob Fauman participates in chess competitions

Checkmate: Senior Jacob Fauman practices chess in the Learning Commons last Friday.

Checkmate: Senior Jacob Fauman practices chess in the Learning Commons last Friday.
[media-credit id=25 align=”alignleft” width=”300″] Senior Jacob Fauman practices chess in the Learning Commons last Friday.
by Kristian Lundberg
Though the rules of chess are fairly rigid, during one of senior Jacob Fauman’s first competitive tournaments in Queensland, Ohio, his opponent was quite willing to bend them.
“I was beating a kid who had a higher ranking than me, and he was a favorite to win the tournament, so when I started winning he became really desperate,” Fauman recalled.
“He offered me money to resign, and then he offered to give me the physical clock,” both of which are highly frowned-upon enterprises in the world of chess.
So what did Fauman do?
“I mean, there’s really no accepted practice for doing anything like that, so I still beat him,” Fauman said, laughing. “But at my current level, whether you win, lose or draw, people tend to be good sports about it.”
Given all that he has accomplished throughout the course of his chess career, the fact that most others take losing fairly well should probably come as a relief.
Fauman, the reigning high school state co-champion, also was an integral part of a team of students from this school that won its third State Championship in the past four years last spring.
Moreover, as an eighth grader Fauman finished in second place in the K-12 Championships, which is to local chess competitions what the Super Bowl is to intramural football.
“Though coming in second place was the best I’ve ever done there, I’ve placed in the top ten fairly consistently since then,” Fauman said.
These successes are a testament to Fauman’s years of honing his skills and developing different strategies to use in gameplay.
Senior Winston Huang, a teammate of Fauman’s on last year’s title-winning squad, has seen Fauman’s talent firsthand.
“You can never assume anything with Jacob because he’s such a brilliant player,” Huang said.
As Fauman points out, the battles of chess occur just as often in the mental game as the one played on the board.
“Chess is all about identifying a weakness and pursuing a goal,” Fauman said. “Though it sounds like a cliché, the most important thing in chess is coming up with a plan.”
According to Fauman, the overall game strategy begins as early as the opening moves.
“There are different openings that people play, and they can determine how the game will turn out. For instance, you can get draw-ish games out of draw-ish openings,” he said. “When you meet a chess player for the first time, one of the first questions you ask them is, ‘What kind of opening do you play?’’’
Fauman opens by moving the pawn in front of his queen, an uncommon move because most begin by moving the king’s pawn forward, he said.
“The queen’s-pawn opening tends to create a more lively, interesting board. I usually play pretty aggressively, so I use my openings to try to advance my strategy,” he said.
Fauman said he mainly participates in local weekend tournaments, many of which have cash prizes, and he now spends much of his time training to further polish his skills. But he added that his main motivation is just the fun he has playing the game.
“Chess is really cool because it involves a certain way of thinking critically and logically,” Fauman said.
“A lot of people think of chess as impractical because there aren’t any real jobs in chess, but I like it because there’s a systematic thought process that it requires.”

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