The Princeton Day School Chess team competed at the National Junior High Championship (K-8) in Atlanta, Georgia on April 6, 7, and 8, with more than 1,100 other players, and took the top prize. In addition, Winston Ni '23 was named National Champion, winning all games in the K-8 championship section. The team of Winston Ni, Eric Wu '24, Albert Ming '22, Kai Shah '22 and Dodge Martinson '22 has won many state championships and has come close in many national championships, often missing first place by a half a point, which makes this a big win according to chess teacher Bonnie Waitzkin.
It is of note that this winning chess team has been playing together since they began taking chess classes as part of the PDS Lower School curriculum when they were 5 and 6 years old. In Kindergarten and 1st grade, Princeton Day School students take chess as a class during the school day. In addition, they can study chess after school in beginner, intermediate, advanced, and tournament classes in Lower and Middle School.
PDS also hosts monthly chess tournaments on campus on Saturdays, and the chess team competes in tournaments both regionally and nationally throughout the year. Chess teacher Bonnie Waitzkin assesses her students with great insight and knows how to move them into the right level of competition to reach their potential. The tournaments provide a wonderful way for our players to test their mettle against some of the best players in the region.
Head of Lower School Alesia Klein is particularly proud of the PDS Chess program, a unique program that allows "our students to learn about teamwork, grit, commitment, and perseverance along with all of the great chess lessons they are learning."
Hong Ni, father of Winston Ni, reflected on the PDS program, and on this championship team by noting: "These boys grew up together as chess players and played as a team at the nationals for a number of years. They have always been competitive but came up half point short of championship a couple of times. The first place finish must be such a special achievement and a long term proud memory for the boys.
"In a way, this team championship is not an isolated outcome. It is many years of hard work by players and commitment by parents. It is their relentless pursuit year after year. It is our optimism, faith and confidence in our players and their ability to achieve greatness. This team is so special. We are all proud. PDS should be proud of them."
National Champion Winston Ni will not stop studying chess, according to Ms. Waitzkin. His goal is to become a national master as quickly as possible. "Winston is rated 2165 and will become a National Master if he wins just one or two more games to be rated over 2200. He will be among the youngest to reach master."
For more about the Princeton Day School chess program, visit this webpage.