U chess club kicks off gaming season

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

In a world dominated by computers, Enrique Arce-Larreta still prefers the more psychological face-to-face chess over Internet chess. “I like to see the whites of their eyes,” said Arce-Larreta, a champion chess-player and second-year graduate student in mechanical engineering. However, the Internet has opened many doors to the U chess club, allowing the group of more than 20 students and non-students to compete with teams they otherwise would not have been able to challenge. Practicing every Thursday in the Union, the club comprises five teams, with four players on each one.The U team is also part of the Internet Chess Club, an international gaming site on which grandmasters and non-grandmasters alike can compete over the Internet.”Grandmaster is the highest level in chess-the highest ranking and skills you can receive,” sophomore computer science major Petro Grechanei said. Grechanei is vice president of the chess club and plays for its second team, which recently won a tournament at Salt Lake Community College.In the winter of 2006, the U chess club placed fourth nationally in the Intercollegiate Chess Competition, and the top five teams are currently University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Texas, Dallas; Stanford University; the U and Iowa State University, respectively.Considering many top teams’ abilities to award chess scholarships to some of the best players and grandmasters in the world, something the U is not able to do, the U team’s top ranking is no small feat. “Playing grandmasters is like the Notre Dame and USC football teams playing against the University of Utah intramural team,” Arce-Larreta said.Because of limited finances, the U chess club, funded by the Associated Students of the University of Utah, can only compete face-to-face with local teams. Now in the process of scheduling a big match against BYU, the team is preparing to avenge its loss against its rivals in 2004.This year, the club has top players Ivan Martynenko, club adviser Robert Williams and club president Toly Zharkikh to lead it to victory.Ivan Martynenko is the current Utah State Blitz champion, winning over Weber State’s former state champion Jeff Phillips in the tournament, in which each player is given five minutes to play a game. “With Ivan at first board on the first team, we finally have a very strong player who can beat masters,” Williams said. The BYU match will probably take place before the ICC season starts Oct. 14. With previous seasons full of losing records, the team is still getting used to the feeling of victory. When asked his goal for the season, senior president and computer science major Toly Zharkikh laughed. “To take third place,” Zharkikh said.

Kim Peterson

John Monstrola, vice president of the chess club and a senior at the University of Utah, makes his move against chess club president and fellow senior, Toly Zharkikh at the Union Den Thursday evening.