My name is Rikuto Nakayasu. I am a grade 11 high school student studying at Charles P. Allen High School and I currently organize the chess club at my school. I have been playing chess for over 10 years and I have been competing at NSSCA events for over 7 years.
Tell us about your journey into becoming a chess player. Was it a particular individual who inspired you or was chess something you found yourself?
I went to Oxford School for my elementary years. Oxford had and still has a big chess club run by Frank King (great coach!). Although I was not interested in going at first, I noticed that all of my friends went so I decided to give it a try. Frank showed me how to play and from there I was hooked. I have always been a very competitive person and the competitive nature of chess suited me. I wanted to win as many games as possible so I played a lot and eventually became decent at the game.
After 3 years of only playing people from my club, I wanted a new challenge and decided to play in a NSSCA tournament. I won that tournament and there I realized that I could go even better. I continued to compete in tournaments in the intermediate group and then eventually I made it to the crown group. I have to give credit to Frank and the chess club members for making me a good player. That club was like a family and I’ve always felt more motivation to do well during school team events because I wanted to play well for them.
What is your favorite part of chess? Creating solid pawn structures? Finding checkmates against the enemy king? Figuring out complex endgame tactics?
My favorite part of chess is finding difficult tactics. It feels so good when you can pull them off and the look on your opponents’ faces when it works never gets old.
Who is your favourite chess player, and why?
I’ve always liked Alireza Firouzja. His play is so attractive and he seems to find moves effortlessly. We are also similar in age and he gives me hope that I can also play good chess one day.
What is your favourite part about the NSSCA tournaments and events? Is it the competition? Or is it perhaps seeing your friends and socializing at tournaments?
I enjoy playing chess and the NSSCA tournaments allow me to do so. It is great to see more and more young and new players coming to tournaments and enjoying chess. The young players are getting very strong and I always feel so old!
I also enjoy how I can talk to other chess players about chess because usually I have nobody else to talk to about chess.
Do you have a favorite chess opening? If so, which one is your favorite and why?
I would not say that I have a favorite chess opening because I like to experiment with many different openings.
How far would you like to go in chess? Do you want to become a chess master or do you see yourself simply playing casually for fun?
Although becoming a chess master would be nice, I understand that I have a long way to go until I am even close to reaching that level. I think I will see chess as a fun hobby for the years to come but I will have goals. I like to set goals for myself and set new goals once I achieve them. My first ever chess goal was to reach an online rating of 1000 and my next goal is to reach 1800. We’ll have to see how far I can go!
Improving at chess can be difficult! Are there any things you do at home or with others that has helped you improve your chess skills?
I think the most important part of chess improvement is practice. A lot of practice. I used to play a lot with my father. These days, I play games online and then go back to see where I went wrong. In this day and age, we have access to many resources such as books and videos. I’ve taken advantage of that and I feel that it has helped my chess.
How has playing the game of chess impacted other areas of your life?
Chess has changed my life in many ways but one thing that stands out is learning to lose. Nobody wins all of their games and I learned that when I lose I have to fix my mistakes and learn from them.
Besides chess, what other sports or activities do you do?
I have been playing ultimate Frisbee for a long time. Recently during the pandemic, I started learning computer programming. The problem solving skills that I learned from chess seem to really help me with programming.