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Congrats To Alexander Collins The Youngest Chess Champion In Vermont History

Jan 02, 2023 10:54AM ● By Stephanie Hatley
Alexander Collins of Norwich, Vermont, has made history. He defeated Walter Chesnut in the Vermont Open chess championship in November, becoming the youngest champion in Vermont history. The 13-year-old not only defeated the organizer of the statewide championship but “dismantled” him, according to Walter. “I’ve never seen anything like this, someone who is a very good solid tournament player rating, not great, not terrible . . . who had this unbelievable tournament,” Walter says.

Chess players are ranked going into a tournament that correspond to their skill set. For example, beginners are usually given a rank of 600 to 1,000. Alexander’s rating of 1,792 put him in the intermediate level, but his play in the tournament was that of a 2,400-rated senior master chess player.

What’s even more surprising is Alexander wasn’t going to participate. He had no intentions of entering the tournament until a member of the Howe Library’s chess club told him about it about 10 days before the event. He spent the next several days honing his skills and analyzing the play of his competitors. Over the course of the tournament, Alexander’s father, Matt Collins, couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “I’m totally truthfully surprised and a little bit floored by it,” Matt says. “It was just a very exciting day because it was such an unexpected result, and he was the underdog by a long shot, but somehow he pulled it off.”

This 13-year-old champion hopes his win will inspire other young people to take up the game of chess. His journey started when his dad brought home a chess board when Alexander was in first grade. He immediately took to the game. After Bill Hammond, then-principal at Marion Cross Elementary School, saw Alexander playing with the school’s two-foot-tall chess pieces, he encouraged his father to start taking him to chess tournaments.

Chess is a game of patience, something many young people don’t have. But Alexander has shown that even a teenager can have laser focus. And now he boasts the title of Vermont Open champion at the age of 13. Congratulations to him and his family!

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