Practice Makes Perfect

Freshman Daniel Azouz continues his passion for chess through tournaments, online games and Chess Club.


Photo by Ingrid Sommerer

As the clock counts down ten seconds, he moves his rook forward, giving the king no way of escaping. Just as the clock dings, he yells, “Checkmate.” This is the end for his opponent and another successful chess tournament for freshman Daniel Azouz. 

Since the second grade, chess has intrigued Azouz. Taught by his uncle who played chess when he was younger, Azouz gained interest for the strategic board game while at summer camp in elementary school.

During fourth and fifth grade, Azouz was given the opportunity to compete with different elementary schools from different cities. Rankings were determined by the skill level of the participant. Of the five groups, Azouz was placed in the first ranking. 

“I was up against three others, and we each played ten games against each other. I thought I got third place, but I ended up getting first, and that’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been when winning a tournament,” he said.

When competing in tournaments, Azouz always stays hydrated in order to keep his brain functioning. He also likes to go over moves in his head and study ahead of time before the match. 

“I’ve won first place at eight tournaments. Although I used to do tournaments, I haven’t in a while because of a busy schedule and not playing that often in middle school. However, I’ve been playing a lot more recently,” he said. “I’d like to continue entering tournaments throughout high school because it’s something I have a pretty big passion for.”

Azouz is a member of the chess club at RUHS and “enjoys” playing chess with other students, such as freshman Jeffrey Kesselman. Kesselmen has known Azouz since the sixth grade and has played with him on multiple occasions. 

“After each game, his play gets a little bit cleaner,” Kesselmen said. “I feel like that’s his style. When he makes a mistake in the first game, he makes less mistakes in the second.”

Although Kesselmen did not attend the same elementary school as Azouz, they both participated in the same chess club that competed against other elementary schools. Since then, Kesselmen has watched Daniel grow as a chess player throughout middle school and into high school. 

“I think it is interesting that Daniel has gotten a lot better by playing chess online. He actually didn’t join the chess club until a few weeks before break, so I suspect he’ll get even better by having a different perspective from playing online,” Kesselman said. 

Azouz looks forward to expanding his knowledge of chess throughout high school and continues to let the competition drive his love for the strategic game. 

“My best advice for new players is to watch plenty of YouTube videos and play frequently. The more you play, the better you’ll get,” Azouz said. “You’ll learn different moves, and when you take a look over every single game you lose, look at why you lost and make sure you never lose that play again.”