Judd Elementary fourth grader places fifth in state chess competition


Share post:

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Om Nangia wanted to buy lunch at Judd Elementary School instead of bringing his own.

His father didn’t like the idea, so in order to have the privilege again, Om asked what he could do. His dad said if he could beat him in chess, lunch was his.

- Advertisement -

“I like just playing,” he said. “It took a long time [to win].”

Om’s father taught him the basics, and then when he traveled to India about a year ago, he enlisted the guidance of a private tutor.

“I stepped up a big level,” Om said.

The first time Om won was when he returned from India. Now, he is the fifth best chess player in all of fourth grade in New Jersey.

He competed in the New Jersey State Chess Federation’s New Jersey State Elementary and Junior High School Championships on Feb. 24 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft.

“He’s good. He’s got the vision for it,” said Kevin Campana, Om’s Chess Club advisor at Judd. “There’s things he sees sometimes when we’re playing that I don’t even see.”

Om said his favorite piece is the knight since it forks other pieces. He said he doesn’t care if he is on the white or black side, though he does prefer white.

Om practices on Tuesdays, in Chess Club on Thursdays at Judd, and on Friday with his Indian tutor through Skype.

Om has a jam-packed schedule outside of chess as well. He said he presents a speech on Wednesdays, has a reading tutor on Monday, works with his math tutor on Thursdays after the Chess Club and practices on the weekends.

“Out of everything, chess is my favorite thing to do,” Om said.

Campana’s afterschool club began four years ago. Forty students signed up at first, so he held sessions twice a week. Now, he offers lessons and games to a group of fifth graders; Om is his only fourth grade student.

“I enjoy it. Teaching then is something I wanted to do,” he said.

Campana used to play with his own father on a wooden chess board. He said he remembers seeing an article about a chess tournament in Dover when he was in high school, and said, “It was unbelievable watching this 7-year-old sit in a chair for an hour or two” playing against a 30-year-old.

He allows his fourth grade class to play chess during recess, and also offers websites they can use at home.

“I think it takes a certain type of person to want to sit down and play it,” he said, noting chess helps with skills in the classroom such as inferencing, predicting, calculations and thinking ahead.

“It’s one thing to learn how to play and another thing to play well,” Campana said.

As for Om, Campana said he plays extremely well, and is looking forward to the day Om beats him.

“He gives me a good challenge,” Campana said. “I don’t doubt by the end of the year I’m going to go down a few times.”

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.

Stay Connected


Current Issue

Latest News

Related articles

Windows of Understanding addresses social justice issues through art

For husband and wife, Dan and Peichi Waite, the word dignity played a big role when putting together...

North Brunswick native sworn in as township police officer

NORTH BRUNSWICK - Seven years after graduating from North Brunswick Township High School, Jake Codella comes home to...

A musician’s journey from professional drummer to film composer

With the upcoming release of Bezos:The Beginning, Professional composer, Colin Bell, shared his creative process on scoring his...

North Brunswick BOE welcomes two new board members

NORTH BRUNSWICK - The New Year for North Brunswick's Board of Education is underway as the board has...