Student Spotlight: Chess builds on student’s math skills, and it’s fun

Niskayuna High School senior, Patrick Chi is a science enthusiast and national chess player.Niskayuna High School senior, Patrick Chi is a science enthusiast and national chess player.


Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — Patrick Chi has one word to describe his senior year: busy.
The Niskayuna High School senior is in the midst of college applications, essays and school work. But busy isn’t anything new to Chi, a Science Olympiad member, violinist, National Honor Society officer and nationally ranked chess player.
Chi began playing chess when he was 6 at a Chinese school program held at Shaker Junior High in Albany. At the time, he played strictly for recreational purposes, but he would soon discover it meant much more to him.
It was no surprise that Chi picked up the game quickly, having a strong talent for math. He finds that he can carry the skills he uses when solving math problems over to the chess board.
“I enjoy being able to apply math to other things I like,” he said.
A year later, he took part in tournaments at the Niskayuna Recreation Center where he was noticed by Richard Chu, World Youth Under 18 chess champion. Shortly after, Chi went on to take chess lessons from Chu, who saw potential in him, encouraging him buy books on the subject to continue to develop his skills.
This is when Chu started to take chess seriously. With that, at age 7, he entered the National Scholastic Competition in Saratoga, where he placed fourth.
“I realized I might actually be good,” he recalls a decade later.
Chi continued to enter tournaments to get his ratings up and went on to place first in a competition in which he was seeded 10th.
“I went into the tournament without any expectations, so that was actually a [career] highlight because I got first.”
The multitalented student continues to play chess to this day and even found some time to compete in three competitions this summer, on top of pursuing his two other passions, math and science.
This past summer, Chi was accepted into Stony Brook University’s Simons Summer Research Program, where he worked with a professor doing hurricane research, a project he is still involved with.
Chi hopes to go on to study either finance or applied math in college. But no matter what he decides to pursue, he will always remember his first love.
“I want to play chess for the rest of my life.”