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The Raider Voice

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The Raider Voice

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Checkmate! Aaron Gold Skillfully Calculates His Moves in Chess and in the Kitchen

Aaron Gold
Gold sits in front of a chess board at the National High School Chess Championship last December. Gold began playing chess in seventh grade. Along with chess, Gold has a passion for cooking and both hobbies complement each other nicely.

Aaron Gold  started playing chess in seventh grade when he took chess as an elective. Since then, he’s attended over 30 tournaments, and won 20 awards, most notably placing 39th out of 300 at nationals last December, and in the top 70 at nationals last spring. 

Gold never expected to be good a chess player when he first started.

“I started off terrible because I never played the game before,” Gold said.

Four years later, Gold learned how to stay ahead of the game.

“In the game I’m thinking maybe seven, eight moves out of my opponent, maybe. If you’re not thinking seven or eight moves out, then you’re really not sure what your position is going to do,” Gold said.

Stress undoubtedly plays a role when playing chess against a clock. With more possible moves than there are grains of sand on the earth, choosing which piece to move and where to move it all under a ticking timer makes some games stressful. While Gold may be a well above average player, it wasn’t always like that for him: he met a humble beginning when he played at his first tournament and stress got the best of him.

“My first game was against the strongest player in the country at our age. I think you can guess how that game went for me. I went into that game knowing how it would end,” he recalled. 

How does he deal with the stress of high pressure games? While he still might not have found a clear remedy yet, Gold is passionate about other hobbies too, most notably his love for cooking which takes his mind off of chess.

“So I think one line you could actually draw between them is the uniqueness of the ideas you try to build. In chess, for example, you’re trying to build attacks that your opponents can’t see that are hard to understand. They don’t necessarily make sense, so your opponent can’t necessarily foresee the same thing with cooking,” he said. “That’s why we have secret ingredients.”

Moving chess pieces on a board and moving ingredients to make a dish require lots of creativity and have given Gold useful skills. According to him, both hobbies help him in an academic setting as well: both cooking and chess require him to stay calm, think under pressure, and also think towards the future. 

“For tests and stuff and quizzes, you’re able to kind of kind of fish out what types of questions or stuff you might actually or might not actually see on a test… you can just kind of pick up on the language that they used during lessons,” Gold said. “You kind of just pick up on those very slight underlying tones because in chess, that’s what you have to do,” he added.

Medium rare steak and a garnished backed potato are plated. Gold’s favorite dish to prepare is undoubtedly steak. “My specialties are any sort of meat, but especially steaks,” Gold said. (Aaron Gold)

Gold has also learned the skill of self improvement quickly through chess and cooking: he keeps a notation booklet to keep track of his games and has various cooking notebooks where he finds his favorite recipes like pho, French onion soup, and steak.

“If I find an important game with something like an important new tactic, I might go back to it in the future,” he said. 

Like cooking, chess is also an art form to Gold. A perfectly perfected steak and a beautifully played game of chess aren’t too far from one another.

“I think chess in itself is an art because of the way that some people just play their games. Some people play in a very attacking manner like I do or a very defensive manner. If you have two of those types of players pinned together you can create almost a beautiful game,” he said. 

Frequently, Gold plays these kinds of intricate games with his teammate junior Neelesh Pandey. According to Pandey, he and Gold have gotten so used to playing together and predicting each other’s moves that their games become “intense battles” where board theory comes into play.

“I think Aaron is a very aggressive player… He’s always involved in making the game more fun rather than like a work thing that is very stressful… He’s always trying to exploit his opponent when no one is really looking. He’s always into finding openings, crazy openings, different attacks,” said Pandey

In the end, Gold’s passions for chess and cooking are mostly about having fun and developing new skills.

“Aaron is just someone who’s really motivated, really dedicated. And I think you can see he’s someone that genuinely loves the game. It’s not that he’s doing it for some kind of accomplishment award. He’s always playing what’s fun for him,” Pandey said.

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About the Contributor
Sara Gelrud
Sara Gelrud, Editor-in-Chief
Sara Gelrud is a senior and the editor-in-chief for "The Raider Voice." This is her second year as a full staff member but has been a contributing writer since her sophomore year. Along with the newspaper, Sara is the editor-in-chief of "Reflections", the literary and arts magazine. Sara leads the Book Club and the Jewish Student Union and is excited to grow as a leader for "The Raider Voice."

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