Ritter uses unique strategies to succeed


Image courtesy of Wesley Works.

Keira Davies, Staff Writer

This previously ran in our December 2022 print issue.

When he is not hanging upside down playing the drums, senior Zach Ritter plays chess for the Emmaus Chess Team. 

Ritter started playing chess at the age of seven, when his teacher, Mrs. Dweck from Willow Lane Elementary, taught her third grade class how to play. Since then, Ritter has been playing chess off and on as a hobby until this year: when he decided to join the Emmaus Chess Club and Team. 

Emmaus Chess club was officially created during the 2021-22 school year. Since then, it has blossomed into a welcoming and intellectual community filled with students from all over the school. Each student has their own unique strategies, openings, and moves. 

“I am someone who likes to sacrifice pieces a lot to try to get an advantage,” Ritter said. 

After joining Emmaus Chess club, Ritter has worked towards improving his skills and becoming a more fierce competitor. On Nov. 15,the club attended their first competition of the year at Liberty High School. Ritter walked into the match expecting a challenging and competitive competition, but walked out feeling like he was in the driver seat the whole competition. 

“I played an average game. I didn’t play extraordinarily well, but I didn’t have a bad game either,” Ritter said. 

Overwhelming stress can ensue while competing in chess with the feeling of your heart pounding, the ticking of the clock, the pieces motionless and yet rapidly moving at the same time; a player is faced with the decision to crack under the pressure of it or channel it and use it to win. Ritter decided to channel this while playing at the competition, skillfully sacrificing pieces, offering sacrifices with well-hidden traps, all while taking advantage of the opponent’s mistakes, and capturing piece after piece. 

Chess has taught Ritter several life lessons that many would not expect. 

“… it teaches you to think about things strategically and you learn not always to go with your first gut instinct,” Ritter said. 

The game of chess is a very strategic and mind provoking game, where it could cost your queen if you move a piece too quickly. This strategy has taken shape in Ritter’s personal life, teaching him that sometimes you need to sit back and think before you make your decision.

 “In chess, you have to sit back, relax, and maybe just take a moment to process things and not be so rambunctious,” Ritter said. 

While Ritter follows this motto on life, he also isn’t scared to take a risk, saying that there will rarely be a time where you look back and regret your decision. 

As Ritter looks to his future, he sees himself sitting in a lecture at Penn State listening to a professor as they ramble on about actuarial sciences. Although actuarial sciences are what intrigues him the most – in the end he sees himself landing somewhere in the business field. 

“I’ve always wanted to do something in business but I wasn’t really sure I’d tossed around different ideas, and actuarial science seemed like something more my style,” Ritter says. 

Chess is not the only hobby of Ritters: he also plays drums for the Emmaus High School Band. Emmaus drumline has made a tradition of playing in front of the student sections at every football game, coming up with new things to grab the crowd’s attention. One Oct. 28, Ritter decided that the attention grabber would be him hanging upside down while playing the drums. 

The inspiration for this came from when he was a freshman in high school and saw junior Carter Lowell, hanging upside down while playing the drums. Two weeks before that Friday hit, Ritter started practicing with a group of band members trying to get everything right. When that moment finally came Ritter was able to successfully play while upside down. 

“It’s an exhilarating feeling to be totally upside down,” Ritter says.