Announcing the Winners of the 2024 Chessable Research Awards


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All applications have been reviewed, and the winners have been chosen for the 2024 Chessable Research Awards! From the 2024 applications, Chessable selected three winners in the graduate student category and two winners in the undergraduate student category.

The Chessable Research Awards are for graduate and undergraduate students conducting university-level chess research. Chess-themed topics may be submitted for consideration, and ongoing or new chess research is eligible. Each student must have a faculty research sponsor. For more information, please visit this link.

Each graduate student winner will receive $1,000 and each undergraduate student winner will get $500. Each faculty research sponsor receives $500, while faculty research co-sponsors get $250 each. Winning students will write Chessable blog posts, to be submitted by December 15, 2024, describing their progress on their research.

Let’s meet the graduate student category winners:

Julia Francesca Engel, Graduate Student

Project: Chess, Gender, and Tournament Dynamics.

The faculty research sponsor for Julia Francesca Engel’s research is Dr. Maria Cubel.

Julia Francesca Engel is a Ph.D. candidate in Quantitative Economics at Kiel University in Germany. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and her master’s in Quantitative Economics at Kiel University. During her Ph.D. studies, Julia has been a visiting Research Associate at King’s College London. In addition to her academic pursuits, she enjoys playing casual chess at the FourCorner Club in London and is actively involved in her rowing club in Kiel as both an athlete and a coach.

Julia’s Ph.D. research focuses on cognitive performance and the influence of environments and institutions on competitive behavior. Her project examines gender differences in competitive behavior using field data from chess, exploring how feedback on objective criteria can reduce the competition gap, thus validating lab findings. This research explores how men and women react to setbacks such as rejections or missed opportunities and aims to investigate mechanisms that prevent these experiences from exacerbating the gender gap.

Jade Oldfield, Graduate Student

Project: Chess for Life: Building Executive Functions in Adolescents.

The faculty research co-sponsors for Jade Oldfield’s research are Dr. Robbin Gibb and Dr. Lance Grigg.

Jade Oldfield is a graduate student in neuroscience whose goal is to connect the fields of neuroscience and education to help facilitate better support and understanding of all students. Jade completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Lethbridge in 2018 and proceeded to work in a variety of complex classrooms, ending up as a Learning Support Teacher. This experience prompted her to seek a better understanding of neurodiverse learners and led her to enroll in the interdisciplinary MEd through the University of Calgary in 2021.

After her first year in the educational neuroscience stream, she enrolled in the MSc in Neuroscience under the supervision of Dr. Robbin Gibb in 2022. Since then, her research has focused on studying executive functions (EF) and how play-based interventions can modulate EF skills. Jade’s research projects include the impact of chess play on EFs in at-risk youth and the impact of a curriculum of games on adolescent EF.

Alex Knopps, Graduate Student

Project: Checkmate? Exploring how collaboration impacts strategy and success in chess.

The faculty research sponsor for Alex Knopp’s research is Dr. Kathryn T. Wissman.

Alex Knopps earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Kent State University. He is a Ph.D. student at North Dakota State University studying Experimental Cognitive Psychology.

Alex’s research project will investigate the effects of solving chess puzzles collaboratively or alone. Often, individuals assume that collaborating with others is helpful. However, some research suggests collaboration can have detrimental effects on learning and recall. Alex will research whether solving chess puzzles through collaboration helps or hinders each player’s thought processes.

And here are the undergraduate student category winners:

Collin Holson, Undergraduate Student

Project: Effect of Simultaneous vs. Sequential Presentation for Memory Performance in Chess.

The faculty research sponsor for Collin Holson’s research is Dr. Kyungmi Kim.

Collin Holson is a senior at Wesleyan University, where he studies history and psychology. He is currently the president of Wesleyan’s chess club and is a co-captain of the men’s varsity swim team.

Collin’s project studies the effects of simultaneous and sequential presentation of chess positions on subsequent recall. Participants will be presented with a series of highly similar and highly different positions either sequentially or simultaneously. Collin hypothesizes that participants presented with highly similar positions simultaneously will recall those positions more accurately than participants presented with highly similar positions sequentially, because participants will encode the differences more readily in the simultaneous condition. However, when presented with highly different positions, Collin hypothesizes that any advantage will diminish.

Eugene Yoo, Undergraduate Student

Project: Street Chess Community: Conflict, Care, and Competition.

The faculty research sponsor for Eugene Yoo’s research is Dr. Sandra Comas.

Eugene started playing chess in kindergarten and is currently a FIDE Candidate Master. Last year, he received the Scholar-Chessplayer Award and represented Team USA in the World Youth Chess Championship. Eugene is the founder of NYC Chess Connections, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides chess education for underserved students. He will be studying at MIT this fall.

Eugene’s research focuses on the street chess community in Washington Square Park. He finds that the game has become a type of social infrastructure connected to the built-in chess tables in the park. Its function has surpassed playing chess, fostering important social interaction among the players. Eugene illustrates this dimensionality in three categories: money and time, hustler interactions, and social conflicts that extend beyond the street chess world.


Thanks to all the students who submitted applications for the 2024 Chessable Research Awards. We look forward to applications for our 2025 cycle of the Chessable Research Awards. Applications open January 15, 2025. For more information, please visit this link.

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