Accolades News

Liam Riley wins 2018 Hawaii State Scholastic Chess Championships

Liam Riley '18 won the 2018 Hawaii State Scholastic Chess Championships (high school division) at Washington Middle School on March 31, 2018.

Posted on May 8, 2018 by Scot Allen

Liam Riley '18 won the 2018 Hawaii State Scholastic Chess Championships (high school division) at Washington Middle School on March 31, 2018. He played a total of five matches and scored 4.5 out of 5 (four wins and one draw).

Riley loves to play chess and was basically self-taught starting in the eighth grade. He later met Punahou School Chess Coach Reynolds Takata, who has helped Riley with weekly lessons over the past four years.

"One day I went to the school library and found a book on chess," he said. "It showed lots of opening moves. It was a very old book." He studied it and even learned to read old-style chess notations to understand what he was looking at. Since the book had not been borrowed since 1997, the librarian just gave him the book!

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Players get 90 minutes to make all of their moves. You can take a few seconds or even 20 minutes to consider your next move. In the fourth round, Liam had a great position against his opponent... can you find the best move for white?

"It is basically what Takata taught me that allowed me to win the tournament," Riley said. "Most people ask if I will be a grandmaster soon, but they don't realize how difficult that actually is and how much there is to learn about the game. Takata taught me the importance of being cautious. It is important to not overlook things and judge prematurely... because when you reach the level where you win tournaments if you make one simple mistake, it's over. You might make a few seemingly inconsequential mistakes, but over time they will compound to the point where it is impossible for you to win."

"Liam told me before that he'd like to beat players from other schools to win the championship," said Daisy Pei, Mid-Pacific chess club advisor. "He just went out and did it! I am very happy for Liam and also happy to see him grow in playing chess with Mid-Pacific Chess Club."

"Chess requires pure skill," he said. "There is very little luck involved. It is a game all about you and the board and your opponent. If you lose, it's on you completely. I like having no excuses. It forces me to do better. Chess is a game that is based on problem-solving. You must figure out the right plan. Chess is fun, but it can be brutal at the same time. If you make one mistake, you have the feeling that all is lost. At the same time, when you do that to someone else, it feels good!"

While chess will remain in his future, he wants to study become an electrical engineer, and possibly get involved in politics. He will attend Cornell University in the fall.