Alum Jessica Lauser, U.S. Blind Chess Champion, Took on All Challengers on Campus

Tuesday, January 05, 2021
Jessica Lauser standing on a concrete path in a park in Berkele

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- She has honed her chess game on the streets: Market Street in San Francisco, Santana Row in San Jose, Dupont Circle in Washington. Her favorite place was the student union at San Francisco State University, where she got her undergraduate degree at age 36.

“I would set up multiple sets at a time and take on all comers,” she says. She drew a crowd, not so much because she was blind or a woman, but because the struggle of one person against many never fails to fascinate. The nearby stores noticed that their sales increased when she was there, as people stopped to watch. “The coordinator of the building told me, ‘I hope this won’t offend you, but we’d like to adopt you!’”