Courtesy of Adam Friedman
Just three years ago, senior Adam Friedman found himself scrolling through chess.com, looking to kill some time. Now, he is the best high school player in Washington, DC.
Friedman had been playing chess for 10 years before he stumbled across this fantastic website. “At the press of the button you can play people all over the world at any time you want,” explained Friedman. “I got frustrated losing and really wanted to get better.”
Chess is a game where knowing strategy is vital. “People devote their entire lives to studying chess. There’s a million resources out there so you could spend as long as you could possibly want studying,” Friedman said. In order to be a successful player, “you have to see the pieces moving in your head as many moves ahead as you can.”
Despite his late start, a simple commitment to studying has catapulted him into elite territory. “Most people at my level have played for seven or eight years and have private coaches, but I don’t need that because I like to spend hours every single day just studying.”
The United States Chess Federation (USCF) currently ranks Friedman as the top high-school student in Washington, DC as well as placing him in the 97th percentile for juniors across the U.S. The USCF generates a ranking based on who you have beaten and how many matches you have played. “At the high school level, I easily have the highest rating with an 1870,” explained Friedman.
Friedman still boasts his notorious reputation. “No private school kid can beat me. It’s pretty funny; they don’t really like me because whenever I show up to the tournaments I always beat them.”
Friedman has traveled up and down the East Coast competing in prestigious tournaments. These tournaments usually take place in large halls with hundreds of chess boards. Attending a chess match can be seen as both a competitive and social event. “You meet a person, shake their hand and often play an hour and a half long game. Whoever wins goes on to the next round and the tournament organizers pair you up with someone else who has also won.”
The winner of each match receives a point and if the match ends in a tie, both players earn half a point. Whoever has the most points at the end wins and often is presented with a cash prize. “My best win was first place in this tournament called the Continental Class where I won $1,400 and I’ve also placed fourth out of 250 people at the World Open twice,” Friedman said.
Additionally, Freidman is part of Wilson’s Chess Club. The club meets in Mr. Evans’ room every Tuesday at STEP. At the moment, the club is rather small, but Friedman strongly encourages new people to join. “Chess is really more than a game and can take you as far as you want it to. It is really fun if you like thinking and are really competitive.”