Members of the Chess Club play a chess match in Williams Hall. Aviela Maynard (left) is sitting opposite of Mahan Mostafavi (right) during an intense game on April 5, 2023 Mulenga Malama (middle) observes the match closely and offers strategic advice to both players (Xiaozhe Zhang/B&W Staff)

Check out the Chess Club


When Skyler Mott, ‘25, turned 8, he started traveling the country to play in competitive chess tournaments. By age 10, he was ranked in the top 75 players in the world for his age. 

Looking to share his love for the game at Lehigh, he founded the Chess Club, for which he is the president.

“In my younger life, I had a lot of history in the chess world,” Mott said. 

When Mott arrived at Lehigh, his passion for chess continued to grow. He said he used to play chess with a group of friends weekly. 

During the beginning of his sophomore year, he said he pitched the idea of a chess club to the Student Senate. 

“Every kid that I know would come to me and ask, ‘When do you play chess, and where do you guys go?’ just because I spend so much time playing chess,” Mott said. “So I decided to form a club.” 

The idea was approved, and the Chess Club was officially recognized in December 2022.

Mott said interest in the club and member growth sparked immediately after its establishment. Now, in its second semester, he said the club has around 200 members.

Isabel Xu (left) develops her strategy on the Chess board against Rory O’Connor (right) on April 5, 2023, in Williams Hall. They believe chess is not just about winning but also about having fun. (Xiaozhe Zhang/B&W Staff)

The Chess Club hosted their first informal competition two weeks ago on March 26 with Lafayette and Moravian in the Health, Science and Technology building. Mott said he contacted other schools and to organize the event.

According to its website, is the leading online chess site with more than 100 million members.

Mott said about 60 participants attended the competition.

“At the competition, we all got to play and it was great to connect with people from other schools,” Mott said.

Social media chair Aviela Maynard, ‘25, said the club competed in an informal tournament with brackets but has yet to participate in intercollegiate tournaments. She said they hope to in the future. 

Maynard said she assists with communications and event planning and runs the club’s Instagram page. 

“Chess really brings people together,” Maynard said. “Nobody was awkward during the competition, we just played. Even if you lose, it’s an honorable loss.”

A chess match is timed on April 5, 2023, in Williams Hall during a Chess Club meeting. Chess is a popular game known for its complexity and depth of strategy. (Xiaozhe Zhang/B&W Staff)

The club hosts meetings every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. in Williams Hall. Mott said they get an attendance of about 40 members each week. There is no required experience needed to join.

Mott said the meetings are meant to provide students a space to release stress from work.

Maynard said she looks forward to their weekly meetings, as she enjoys having a good time with her friends, many of whom she met through the club.

Youssef Ellozy, ‘25, joined the Chess Club in December. He said the club has served as a social outlet and allowed him to pick up an old hobby.

“The Chess Club reignited a fire in me to start playing chess seriously again,” he said. “I’ve met so many new friends through the club and am grateful for the connections made because of this club.”

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