Weekly Spotlight: FAU Chess Club

Sitting in the Breezeway every week is FAU’s Chess Club, a student-run organization that welcomes chess players of all skill levels.


FAU Chess Club competes in tournaments from Boca Raton Chess Club and the South Florida Inter-Collegiate Chess Tournament. Photo courtesy of Corey Zapin, club president.

Brittany Ferrendi, Features Editor

Welcome to the Weekly Spotlight, where you can learn about on-campus organizations in one easy place.

This week we spoke with Corey Zapin, president of the FAU Chess Club.

With about 10 active members, the club is interested in increasing membership and inspiring new students to try out chess. They meet every Thursday from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. at CU 131.

UP: When did Chess Club begin?

CZ: It’s a fairly new club. We’ve been around for a couple of years, but I’m really trying to push for member recruitment this semester. Last semester I became the president of the Chess Club and now I’m really focusing on increasing the member turnout.

UP: What is the atmosphere like at the meetings?

CZ: The atmosphere is great. We all get along. If you don’t know how to play, someone will teach you how to play. It’s very friendly, very casual.

UP: What steps does the club take to teach new members to play?

CZ: At each meeting if you don’t know how to play, one of our experienced members will come side with you and will teach you how to play until you understand all the rules and we’ll teach you how to get better. We’ll play games with you, we’ll respect you just as if you’re one of the most experienced members.

UP: How long have you been playing?

CZ: I’ve only been playing chess for about three to four years. I love the game, it’s my passion. When I was a freshman in high school, my math teacher, he was the sponsor of the chess club. He encouraged people to come and play. So when I did that, I got crushed. That inspired me to get good and eventually I was able to beat it.

UP: What’s the hardest part about playing chess?

CZ: It’s just keeping focus because if you make one small mistake, it could sometimes cost you the entire game. So, you really need to be in a high-energy state, you need to be well-rested, you need to have healthy meals, you need to be exercising and if you do all that you’ll be fine. Besides from that, just practice. Keep playing and you’ll get a lot better.

UP: Does Chess Club run events on campus?

CZ: Yeah, we’re actually on the Breezeway every friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we’re also looking to get additional days Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from those same hours. We set up four boards and we just play chess. Anyone who wants to come along can play us. [If] we have an empty board, feel free to come play. And we have sign-ups if you’re interested in coming to the Chess Club, you write your name, telephone number and email and I’ll send you an email about the Chess Club.


The Chess Club frequently meets on the Breezeway, encouraging passers-by to join them. Photo courtesy of Corey Zapin, club president.
The Chess Club frequently meets on the Breezeway, encouraging passers-by to join them. Photo courtesy of Corey Zapin, club president.


UP: Does your club participate in competitions?

CZ: We do have several teams. I’m a part of the chess team. We’re trying to get more to join the teams. Actually there is something called Boca Raton Chess [Club], it’s the chess club of Boca Raton. They are actually coming to FAU to host a tournament, one round a week and it’s about four weeks. Basically, if you’re in the Chess Club you can do it for free. It’s a really great experience to gain tournament experience, it’ll help you become a stronger chess player. That’s the best way to get better, to practice.

UP: Does that mean that non-Chess Club members have to pay to participate in Boca Raton Chess?

CZ: Yeah, you have to be registered with the USCF, which stands for the United States Chess Federation. You have to be a member of that, which is about $30 a year. On top of that I’m sure there is some sort of tournament entry fee, I believe it is $20.

UP: Does CC travel for tournaments?

CZ: Yes we actually do travel. Our chess team travels and now we’re part of the South Florida Inter-Collegiate Chess Tournament. I think right now we’re in first place. It’s between FAU, University of Miami, FIU [Florida International University] and Miami Dade [College]. It’s a student-run league and it’s very fun. We travel from school to school, it’s a great experience.

So the way it works is that each round is posted at a different school. Sometimes we carpool, sometimes other schools come to FAU and it just depends on which round it is.

UP: How is FAU’s Chess Club determined to be in first place?

CZ: We have the highest score. So if the team has an overall winning against another score — if they win the most games — then they get off with a point. If it’s the same as a 0.5, [it’s] a draw and if they lose they get no points. So right now we have the most points.

UP: What’s something interesting about Chess Club that the average student would never guess?

CZ: When the average student thinks about chess, they might think that you have to be super smart, that you have to be a super genius that thinks 30 moves ahead and honestly that’s just not true. Anyone can learn how to play and I can teach anyone how to play in 10 minutes or less and once you know the rules you’ll have a blast.

UP: What’s the weirdest form of chess that CC plays?

CZ: We do sometimes play variants, but usually we focus on normal chess, but some of the variants we play is one of the more interesting ones. It’s called Bughouse. It’s four people that play, two people per team. The way it works is that there are two boards, two people that are on the same team have different colors. When a piece is captured — let’s say you take your opponent’s piece, you give that piece to your teammate and he can drop that piece anywhere on the board. It gets very, very confusing. It’s not what I would prefer to play, it’s just one of the variants that are options.

UP: Is there anything you would like prospective students to know?

CZ: I think interested students should give it a shot, because you never know — you might like chess, it might be for you. Maybe it’s not, but maybe it is. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.


Brittany Ferrendi is the features editor of the University Press. If you would like to contact her regarding this or other stories, she can be reached at [email protected].