Exeter Summer 2022 would be incomplete if Eduardo Fernandez had chosen to leave his chess set in
the corner of his room to collect dust. The student from Miami, Florida — better known as the “chess master” or the “chess legend” — can usually be found parked at a picnic table with his latest opponent.
Eduardo was introduced to the game of chess by his brother around the age of 10. He watched his
brother play matches against the math teacher and had to know more. At the time chess was just a fun hobby and a way to bond with his brother, but about a year ago the game became so much more to him.
His chess club took a hit from Covid and Eduardo had to conjure up some creativity to continue his
passion. Eduardo took to the park to teach local kids chess. Parents came and asked him how much he wanted for lessons, but he simply said, “I don’t want anything, I just want to play.”
The people he teaches are usually less fortunate and do not make for the most challenging opponents,
but he finds inspiration and familiarity in them. “When I see them play it reminds me of when I first
learned,” he said. “Being able to teach people the same way I was taught it just… it’s a great feeling.”
Eduardo has moved onto playing in competitions as well. His first experiences were very humbling.
When he walked into the competition, he was overwhelmed by the number of people who had shown up.
He became accustomed to losing matches now that he had new competition, but still had a harder time
dealing with defeat.
“It was like a heart breaker in a way,” he said, “but it gave me the confidence to come back stronger.”
When Eduardo was packing his bag for Exeter, he saw his chess set in the corner of his room and
thought, “why not bring it?” He packed it away and when he was showing it to a dormmate he saw another eyeing the board hoping to initiate a match.
His first opponent at Exeter was astonished by Eduardo’s skill. One of the first things that he asked
Eduardo was what his rate was and when Eduardo replied with a variation of “I don’t know,” he certainly
wasn’t expecting the skill set that Exeter’s chess master showed.
Since then, Eduardo has been approached by many students who are jumping at the chance to play the
famed Exeter prodigy.
Eduardo rarely turns down a match and he has even taught a few students how to play.
The daily matches are no inconvenience to Eduardo. He believes that his skills have improved here at Exeter. He has assimilated his brother’s skills and strategies. When he plays his brother, Eduardo can almost anticipate his opponent’s every move. At Exeter, everyone has his or her own style of playing and “you never know what’s in your opponent’s head,” said Eduardo.
Along with the practice he has gotten, he has also created many friendships with those
he has gone head-to-head with. One of his close friends, George Antonopoulus, plays him very
often and has become one of Eduardo’s favorite opponents.
“He has a good playing style,” said Eduardo. He admitted that George had beat him once
before when he made a big mistake, but said, “I was very proud of him for taking advantage of
He is pleased that his chess set has accompanied him to Exeter because it has created opportunities for him to become closer to people like George. His only complaint is that he cannot teach as many people here as at home because many people are “stiff to learning the
game,” he said.
He believes that he has become more intelligent and focused by practicing the game but is disappointed that there is a common misconception that to play chess you must have the two.
To be good at chess you do not have to be at the top of your class, he said. To be good at chess all you need is diligence.
“Just give it a try,” he says to any beginner chess player. “Once you get past that first hurdle you can just enjoy the game.”