Rapidly growing chess club records 2nd consecutive state title


By Ken Severson

Chess is the ultimate abstract strategy game — one that has been around for thousands of years and been studied, scrutinized, even written about in books and a musical.

It’s a game that’s played to win – something the Carmel High School Chess Club has been pretty good at lately.

The Carmel Chess Club “A Team” recently recorded its second consecutive first place finish along with the “B Team” tying for second place in the state championship.

Additionally, the Carmel Chess Club also took a record six teams to the competition.

Last year, the Carmel Chess Club A Team won, while the B Team was ninth.

Not bad for a team that originally didn’t have enough players to send a team to state.

“It is great to see the growth of chess in the Carmel community,” said Yash Bhargava, a CHS senior and member of the Carmel Chess Club. “I started playing chess in 2017 and was playing in community events. But then COVID hit, which killed the community aspect of the game.”

After COVID, Bhargava searched for a chess club, hoping to continue playing with friends and other people, but ended up rebuilding the Carmel Chess Club.

The Carmel Chess Club has been rapidly growing in the past two years. It was only two years ago the school didn’t have enough players to send a team to the state championship.

Sponsorship is provided by Eric Rauch, a biology teacher at Carmel High School.

Bhargava was part of this year’s championship along with fellow senior Owen Mei and sophomores Timothy Lim and Kevin Cao.

And the club has branched out.

“It’s not just the school club now. We have expanded into the chess community of Carmel. I’ve led a partnership with the Carmel-Clay Public Library,” Bhargava said. “All people from all backgrounds can compete in tournaments.”

Meetings are Sundays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the teen activities room at CCPL. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Meetings can include lessons, casual play and tournaments.