Checkmate – SNJ Today
For Kameliia Sharuda, a Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) major who graduated Friday, May 13 with a 4.0 GPA, finishing strong has always been important. The 2021 US Open Women’s Chess Champion knows very well the similarities between chess and life, and is both a student and a teacher.
Last year, she beat Matthew O’Brien, an American chess master, in the last round to become the highest-ranked woman in the chess championship. American Chess Magazine published an article about his achievements.
Sharuda started playing chess in his native Ukraine when he was four years old.
“I played too many card games and my parents had had enough,” she recalls. “So my mom suggested my dad teach me chess.” Her father taught her the game and she won a “bronze medal in a Ukrainian national tournament for girls under 10”.
In 2013, the champion chess player came to the United States via a student exchange program and decided to stay after meeting her later husband. Sharuda (who attended the same high school as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy) returned to Europe in March to help her parents flee the war-torn country and settle in Poland. She recently shared her family’s tense journey on RCSJ Today.
The respect that Sharuda, a teacher’s aide at Sewell Elementary School and a chess teacher at the South Jersey Innovation Center, has for the game runs deep.
“It’s a love/hate relationship. It can be very cruel,” she said. “You can spend the whole game playing good moves, but one mistake, one little little mistake…” she said. “Let’s say you’re getting anxious or you’re tired of thinking or you’ve been lazy for a second, right? You didn’t feel like calculating and there’s your mistake and all that good play you’ve been doing has gone out the window.
Sharuda, the mother of a seven-year-old son who also plays chess, is intrigued by the psychological and philosophical aspects of the game. She points out the parallels between chess and life.
“Of course, I love the game. I just find it fascinating. What I love is that it teaches you to analyze,” she said. learn from the games you’ve lost. So, I feel like it relates a lot to life. We all make mistakes, right? What separates good players… [is they] are able to learn from their mistakes. If you can’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t try to improve, that’s probably not a good thing in chess, and in life too.
Sharuda also sees a connection between the game and being a student: “One of the chess players said the hardest part was winning a winning game, so I feel like we tend to relax in some cases. When we feel that victory is near, we already imagine ourselves celebrating [with] champagne in our hands. But now is actually the time to be even more careful. I feel like in school it’s also important to finish strong. So no matter how well you are doing, you can’t just relax. It is important to finish strong whatever you do.
Sharuda has family ties to the college which made the decision to enroll here easy. “My husband went to Rowan College in Gloucester County (now RCSJ) and my brother-in-law also goes to RCSJ. I live in the neighborhood. RCSJ has a good reputation, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of something that’s just around the corner.
A participant in RCJS’s 3+1 partnership program with Rowan University, Sharuda excelled in her classes. “It’s a great program,” she said. “It’s affordable, which is important. The dean was extremely helpful. All the teachers are amazing.
Her teachers feel the same about her.
“Kam has always found ways to engage her peers in conversations on a deeper level,” said Dana Teague, teacher for 3+1 Education majors. “She’s always willing to ask all kinds of questions. and provide support to peers when needed.”
“She has a very strong desire to teach, and I believe she will make a strong and effective teacher because she has a lot of empathy,” said instructor Jennie Cusick. “She also knows and understands how to communicate well with others.”
Sharuda has played in many tournaments on the East Coast and admitted that playing chess, for her, is a time-consuming hobby. However, Sharuda, who hopes to earn the title of Chess Master, has ensured that her studies do not waver even during the US Open Chess Championship.
When asked how she felt after becoming the top finisher in the event, Sharuda said, “Of course, I felt proud of myself because if you look at the list of players, there were a lot of strong players, including grandmasters.”
She was quick to add, “I was so proud of my son who also performed. He and I won the mother and son award.
Currently in the Top 100 of the United States Chess Players Rankings, Sharuda said, “It’s important to enjoy what you’re doing and try to have fun. I’m trying to teach my son to have a fun experience and not just play chess to get results. I think that’s the most important thing. When you start something, you don’t always win…. I think it’s important to be patient and try to improve from that result when you lose.
She quoted Winston Churchill to drive the point home: “’It’s the courage to carry on that counts.’ I can’t say it better,” Sharuda said.