From pawn to dusk, Jayden Doyel plays chess

Jayden+Doyel+and+junior+Charlie+Afman+playing+chess+in+the+FHC+hallway

Nate Monaghan

Jayden Doyel and junior Charlie Afman playing chess in the FHC hallway

Many hobbies begin as simple time fillers. Singing in the car becomes a passion for choir. Reading in the doctor’s office turns into a hunger for literature. This is precisely how junior Jayden Doyel’s love for online chess began.

“I started playing chess in [my] Computer Science [class] one day because I was finished with my code, and I had nothing else to do,” Jayden said. “My friends were playing it, so I decided to try to beat them.”

Jayden is one of many people who have begun to play online chess recently on a website aptly called chess.com. Although no one seems to know how or why the website has suddenly gained such popularity, it has become a common sight.

The competitive nature of the game is a draw to Jayden and many of the other high school students who have become interested recently. Chess.com is a simple way to learn the game without the hassle of carrying around a board and sixteen pieces.

“[Chess.com] is like normal chess, but online,” Jayden said. “Sometimes, it shows you if you can take a piece or not, and it also makes it very clear when you’re in check. It shows you the possible moves, which helps when you’re learning.”

Although the game may seem complicated at first—filled with different pieces and moves—it becomes simple as you learn more, and according to Jayden, the best way to do this is by practicing.

Although he had played chess before this recent interest, it was a long time ago, and he had never had a real interest in it. The accessibility of chess.com allowed him to practice, get better, and realize that the game is something he enjoys.

“I’d say I have improved since I started,” Jayden said. “I haven’t played chess in about ten years, but starting back up again was like riding a bike. I got back into it, and I got better.”

Chess is like a puzzle. It helps activate your brain, in a way. Chess is fun, but it’s more fun when you play it with friends, so get your homework done and then you can play chess.”

— Jayden Doyel

Although Jayden enjoys playing to improve, his favorite reason to play chess is to compete against his friends. High school boys are generally a competitive crowd, and Jayden and his friends aren’t any different.

Whenever they finish up their schoolwork early, they can be seen analyzing a chess board on their computer screens, trying to outmaneuver each other.

“[Chess] is fun to play against friends when you have everything done in class,” Jayden said. “Sometimes, I just play against random people [on the computer] because some of my friends are still doing their work, but my favorite person to play against is [junior] Brett Comiskey because he’s not very good.”

Jayden loves to win, but he often gets stuck in a stalemate at the end of a game. This happens when one player’s king is not in check and none of their pieces are able to move.

In order to avoid this situation, experience is necessary. Although Jayden has only just started playing again, he knows the best way to gain this experience.

“If you want to improve, play more,” Jayden said. “The more you play, the more experience you have, and the more you know how to deal with certain situations that you might find yourself in.”

Jayden’s experience has allowed him to learn more about the game, the pieces, and the tricks it takes to win. Even though he sometimes calls the knight a “horse,” he has improved greatly.

He is familiar with all of the pieces, and he has even created his own signature move.

“My favorite piece is the knight because it moves in a weird pattern, so people don’t always see what you’re trying to do. My favorite move is check, obviously, but that’s not really a move. I like my opening. I move my knight, and then I move a pawn up so that my bishop is in line with their queen, and they’re forced to either move a pawn in a way they don’t want to or sacrifice their queen. I call it a ‘blunderton.’”

Jayden has had fun playing (and beating) his friends in chess. He has found a new favorite way to fill his downtime.

“Chess is like a puzzle,” Jayden said. “It helps activate your brain, in a way. Chess is fun, but it’s more fun when you play it with friends, so get your homework done, and then you can play chess.”