International Master Jack Peters is currently one of the top 200 players in the USA. Peters wrote the renowned LA Times chess column for nearly 30 years, and he is currently a professor at the University of Southern California as well as an adviser to its chess team. We spoke with Mr. Peters about his history with chess, how he’s been able to promote the sport, and much more:
Could you tell me about how and when you began playing chess?
I learned how to play chess when I was eight years old. I really became hooked in high school when I saw a book about chess. I just kept playing after that!
Can you tell me about what you do with chess other than playing in tournaments? Along these lines, it would be great if you could also talk a little about the chess column you used to write for the LA Times.
I wrote the chess column until the end of 2010. I used to write it once a week for the paper on Sunday. I’d write about a couple of games, news about upcoming tournaments, and items of that nature—it was really an ordinary chess column in many ways. Ultimately, though, it was a lot of fun to do; I did it for 28 years! Other than that, I have written pretty regularly for other publications such as Chess Life and Rank & File, and co-authored a couple of books. However, I think that my biggest contributions have been as a chess teacher. I’ve been teaching privately since 1976, and I currently teach at two elementary schools and the University of Southern California. The courses I teach at USC are called “Chess and Critical Thinking” and “Chess – Advanced Thinking Techniques,” and I’ve been teaching here since 2002. Through these courses, I hope to show students that they can be successful playing with any style, really.
What do you have to say about the benefits of chess in education and in life?
Well, I’ve met a lot of interesting people through chess! Also, I’ve been told by quite a few students that chess has helped them with their thought processes in other subjects and in thinking rationally.
Why is chess meaningful to you?
I like the competition. I’m also immensely fascinated by the game itself and by how one can win with only, initially, a tiny advantage. Other than that, I couldn’t really explain why I’ve stuck with chess!
What is your favorite opening?
The Ruy Lopez!
Which chess players inspire you?
Any of the world champions.
Who is the strongest opponent you’ve ever played against?
Mikhail Tal. I’ve also played against Tigran Petrosian, Bent Larsen, and Viktor Korchnoi.
In your free time, what do you like doing besides playing chess?
I’m really hooked on chess! Other than chess, though, I like sports and cooking.
We’d like to thank Jack Peters for talking to us, and we appreciate his support and recognition of what we’re doing to promote chess. We admire the ways through which Mr. Peters is promoting chess, and we would like to wish him the best of luck in his future pursuits!