Chess Whiz Loses To Obie, Triumphs Over 30 Others
by Peter Dybdahl

Those who don’t consider chess an extreme sport were obviously not in Wilder Bowl last Friday afternoon when international chess master Calvin Blocker challenged over 30 Oberlin students in a flurry of simultaneous games, suffering one defeat.
The event was organized by the Oberlin Chess Club. A row of tables with chess boards were set up in the Bowl. Participants sat on one side of the table while the other side was left open to Blocker, who ran from board to board, usually spending less than a minute on each of his various turns.
Blocker, who in standard chess rankings has earned the title of International Master, was nearly untouchable throughout the day. In total, he conquered 30 of his opponents. Yet in an unprecedented event, he would eventually admit defeat to first-year Jon Hirsch. Hirsch received a $1000 prize for his victory from the Oberlin Chess Club’s budget.
The fateful game ended when Blocker, down to two pawns, resigned. This marks the first time ever that an International Master has been defeated at Oberlin.
“It was a nice little tactic,” Hirsch said, referring to the combination that gave him the upper hand.
“There’s no honor about winning; [Blocker] would beat me anytime,” he said. “I’ve gone over the game; I played better than I’m supposed to, and he made a lot of mistakes. But I don’t say I beat a [master], I say I won a thousand bucks. It’s cheap to say I beat him because it was simultaneous. I’m not better than him... [Blocker] said things obviously jokingly, but things a chess master shouldn’t say. There’s a proper etiquette, especially at his level,” Hirsch said of his opponent, who did not take the loss quietly.
“Watch in four moves, white will be completely lost,” Blocker said at one point, obviously taunting the victor.
A chess player’s ranking is decided by strength and performance. A Master must score over 2,200 points, and a Grand Master over 2,500. Garry Kasparov, considered the best player of all time, has a score of over 2800 points. Calvin Blocker is currently ranked 86th in the U.S. with 2467 points. Hirsch considers himself a solid 1600.

“I’m not a big player…but I love it,” Hirsch said, who is a math major. He began studying chess seriously at the beginning of high school, picking it up mainly because his friends did. Hirsch has played in a handful of chess tournaments, in which his success has varied. Friday’s contest was his first simultaneous game.

“It was very casual, but the music from T.G.I.F. was pissing me off,” he said.

When asked what he would do with his $1,000 prize, Hirsch could not provide a definitive response.
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought a lick about it.”

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