The Hilltop - Sports
Issue: 11/21/03

Chess Team Blazes New Trail
By Zachary Kenworthy

"We knew that we would have done well," explained President of the Chess Club Travis Hoskins about the East Coast Amateur Chess Club Championships, "But we exceeded our own expectations. We have set ourselves a standard for the rest of the year and the upcoming tournaments."
This past weekend in Baltimore, The Howard University Chess Club continued to blaze a trail and a new legacy for Chess. In all, the Howard team played in 20 matches and won 17, lost 2 and drew one.
Furthermore, of the two losses that Howard recorded, one was between teammates Errol Daniels and Darius Lyles in a head-to-head match-up. Hoskins, who took part in the under 1800 rated section, waltz his way to a record of 4 wins and 1 draw as he laid claim to the championship and the top spot in his field of 33 players.
"He smashed his way through that tournament," explained coordinator and mentor Vaughn Bennett who has been working with the club for some time, "I think we are going to do really well over the next few months."
For Howard, Hoskins was not the only one who garnered some silverware. Emmanuel London, who participated in the under 1300 rated section, also claimed the top spot from a field of 18 as he went 5-0. The team's newest members Errol Daniels and Darius Lyles, who both competed in the under 1300 section, also tied for second in their field.
At the Mecca, the Chess club is an avenue through which the university can accumulate even greater reach across all boundaries.
"What we are taking part in here is history," said Bennett.
Howard is training player is the ancient African tradition of chess in hopes of adding a second African American name to the list of 600 world grandmasters.
Bennett helps coordinate many of the competitive trips that Howard makes and also pointed out that the competition has only just begun. He expects the team to perform creditably at this month's National Chess Congress over the Thanksgiving weekend in Philadelphia, a tournament that has developed over the past 30 years.
For the Howard team, after such a successful weekend in Baltimore, the future looks bright and the outlook for Philadelphia is one of excitement.
"Baltimore taught me to stay calm," said Hoskins. "I had to patient all the way through. I think once we keep working the way we have we are going to be successful from here on in."
Howard's success as a chess club is inherent to their development and the sport's development in general. Sadly, this year has marked the first time that African Americans have been invited to the 155th Annual US Championships. The tournament, which has been described as the equivalent to the Master's in Golf, invites the country's top 56 players and just last year they invited women for the first time.
"We definitely want to break down some barriers. There is a lot racism in this sport still," said Hoskins.
Barriers exist and as the chess club continues to blaze a trail, so too does their focus and drive as individuals. It will be Howard who looks to break those barriers as the sport embellishes itself as a true force on campus.