A Chess Champ in the Making

By Fraser Coffeen
Assistant Head of School for Academic and Auxiliary Programs

Take a look at the official rankings for The United States Chess Federation and you will see the name of a proud Canterbury Cavalier. Our own Harvey Hanke (Grade 2) is currently ranked as the #13 chess player in the 8-year-old division in the entire US. Yes, #13 in the nation. That makes him officially the best 8-year-old chess player in Indiana. But you wouldn’t know it from talking to Harvey.

“It’s fun to compete. I like traveling and playing the games.”

In many ways, Harvey is your typical 8-year-old boy. He likes to fish, and he likes to play. But Harvey has a clear goal in mind: “To become a Grand Master.” And he’s well on the way to doing it.

“To reach the level he’s reached at age 8 is something way beyond expectations,” says Canterbury Chess Team coach and teacher Jim Dean. Coach Dean has worked with Harvey quite literally since day one of Harvey’s chess career - it was during an enrichment class Dean taught in Canterbury’s Early Childhood that Harvey first played the game. As Dean first watched him, right away, “I could tell there was something going on… He accelerated faster than I could imagine.”

From there, Harvey began entering tournaments and taking lessons with Coach Dean outside of school. He now plays in a tournament most weekends. For his parents, who are not chess players themselves, the goal has always been simple: “Go and play the best you can,” says Harvey’s father, Steven. As Harvey has played more, they’ve seen him increase his knowledge, increase his patience, and become more disciplined. But he’s also just had fun with it, as he really enjoys the social aspect of tournaments and getting to know other players.

Coach Dean says part of what sets Harvey apart from many students is his attitude. “He does a lot of studying… it’s rare and impressive for a player his age.” Coach Dean adds, “Harvey is fascinated by chess. I hope he continues on. He’s beyond where I was at his age. The sky is the limit for Harvey.”

Despite these great successes, Harvey takes it one step at a time. He’s having fun, he appreciates how it helps him, and he’s ready to keep on going.

For any aspiring chess champions out there, I asked Harvey for his parting advice. He left me with these three simple rules he uses: “Have fun with it. Stay calm. And don’t resign.”