RCMS blocks latest distraction — chess


Arjun Garg

Tyler Shin (left) and Dylan Lu (right), eighth-graders on the Discovery team, play a game of over-the-board chess, a style of playing that many have switched to at RCMS.

Many students and staff of RCMS, recognizing both pros and cons of students’ enjoyment of chess, were uncertain about the March 24 block of the popular platform Chess.com.

Zoeb Izzi, an eighth grader on the Explorers team, acknowledges the negative effects of it, however he also believes that Chess.com shouldn’t be blocked.

“Chess.com should not be blocked because one could call it [chess] an educational game,” Zoeb said.

Another student, Daniel Gao, an eighth-grader on the Wolves team, is also opposed to the decision to block chess.

“I don’t like it [the block]; it’s bad,” Daniel said. “I don’t think it [chess] is necessarily a game.”

Along with these opinions, however, people also believe that Chess.com could pose distractions during school hours.

“When the teacher is giving instructions or students are doing classwork, students should not be playing chess,” said Ameya Haldankar, an eighth-grade student on the Explorers team. “Chess could be sort of a distraction because it is very captivating.”

Daniel also explains how he thinks Chess.com could negatively impact students if they use it when they shouldn’t.

“Just in general, when the teacher is talking, you should be doing work,” Daniel said. “It [Chess.com] could always be a distraction; you get bored, you play some chess, you forget everything they are saying, and you fall behind in class.”

Mrs. Barbara Marshall, Coding and Innovative Technologies teacher at RCMS, describes how chess can seem more appealing to students than other things, such as their school work.

“It can be a distraction because students would probably rather play this, something fun and challenging,” Mrs. Marshall said. “Some don’t have the maturity to know that they have to do their work before this.”

Although chess is said to be distracting to students, many also believe it has numerous benefits, such as developing problem solving skills.

“Chess teaches patience and discipline,” said Kevin Su, eighth-grader on the Discovery team. “It is a good creative outlet for your free time.”

Mrs. Marshall shares similar views with Kevin when it comes to the benefits of chess.

“Chess fosters creativity and critical thinking skills and requires a great deal of concentration,” Mrs. Marshall said. “I would rather have students playing chess when they are all finished with their work than goofing off.”

Chess.com was blocked through a request system where a teacher lists the name of a site they believe should be blocked along with the reason, and the technology support specialist puts in the request, which then goes to the IT department.

“Generally, when a website is requested to be blocked, it is blocked,” said Mr. Michael Hale, a technology support specialist at RCMS.

As a result of Chess.com being blocked, some students have transitioned to physical chess or alternative chess websites to continue to play chess. Due to these sites, some students have argued that blocking Chess.com will not completely fix the problem of students playing chess during school hours.

“The alternative chess websites are very similar to Chess.com, obviously, but Chess.com is more mainstream and more popular,” Kevin said. “So really, I feel like Chess.com being blocked is more of an inconvenience.”

Overall, the block of Chess.com has caused students and staff to be unsure of what the ideal rule for the school and county would be.

“Many students use chess when they should, but there are those students who abuse the privilege,” Mrs. Marshall said. “I can’t say for sure what the solution should be.”