He took a year off following high school in Manhattan, N.Y., to play chess. He wanted to improve as much as he could within the year.
The training paid off at the 2012 U.S. Junior Closed Championship in July when Arnold won first place.
“I was pretty happy,” he said. “It means that I am doing pretty well. It is a significant tournament for juniors. I got $4,000 and a bid to the 2013 U.S. Championship.”
Arnold qualified for the younger-than-20 tournament by being one of the highest-rated juniors in the country. He will move to play against the rest of the nationally ranked chess players in May.
“I am absolutely accepting the bid,” he said. “It is a really good opportunity. I am going to try to make the most of it.”
At the juniors championship in St. Louis, there were two different groups — group A and group B. There were eight players in each section, and everyone in each section played one another. Two players from each section advanced to the finals.
Arnold said during his year off, he played one to two tournaments a month to prepare for the junior championship.
However, Arnold doesn’t plan to play at IU.
“I will definitely play during the summer,” he said. “I won’t have much time during the year.”
Because he is not practicing during the school year, Arnold said he probably will be out of practice for the national championships in May.
“Hopefully, I won’t be too rusty for the tournament,” he said. “Chances are that I will be a little rusty.”
Arnold said when the tournament approaches, he will start looking at chess websites.
“I will surround myself with chess,” he said. “I will be looking at it on the computer, being with my chess friends and involving myself with chess. Hopefully, it will come back to me as quickly as
Despite chess being the hobby Arnold is best at, many of his IU friends don’t know about his chess success.
“I have some friends that know,” he said. “My roommates and suitemates know. I think they are pretty surprised. I think they think it’s cool. It’s neat and pretty different. They probably haven’t known someone before who is good at chess.”
Chess has been a part of Arnold’s life since he was 6 years old. He started playing at school in a chess class. He is the only one in his family who plays.
“In second grade, I won nationals, so they knew I was pretty good,” he said.
Arnold said he plans to continue playing chess because it is what he is best at.
“It is the thing that comes most naturally to me,” he said. “I like doing what I’m good at.”
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