Jiles’ chess competition raises money for United Way


Brandi Boyett/Iowa State Daily

Dr. David Jiles, chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, makes his move against Jaleb Jay, sophomore in mathematics, in Coover Hall on Oct. 19, 2013. Jiles agreed to donate $20 to United Way for any game of chess he lost, as he played eight challengers simultaneously. On Oct. 12, he played blind-folded, with someone calling out the moves made by his opponent and moving his pieces for him. Overall, $300 was donated to United Way of Story County.

Brian Day

David Jiles, distinguished professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, has been playing chess for the majority of his life; 53 years, to be exact. His father taught him how to play chess when he was only seven years old and he hasn’t looked back since.

This past Saturday, Jiles competed in a chess challenge to support the United Way of Story County.

This challenge consisted of eight simultaneous chess games where Jiles moved from one board to the next, playing one move at a time per board while the other participants waited and contemplated their next move.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, Jiles competed in seven chess matches blindfolded.

For every blindfolded match that he lost, Jiles donated $100 to the United Way of Story County. For every non-blindfolded game that he lost this past Saturday, he donated $20 to the same cause.

During the blindfolded competition, Jiles won four out of seven games, putting the unofficial donation total at $300 for United Way of Story County. But Jiles says that regardless of the outcome of the matches, he will still be putting money toward the cause anyway.

Along with the money that Jiles donated based on the outcome of the match, there was also a $10 entry fee for anyone who wanted to participate.

“If they can beat me, I’ll pay a certain amount of money to United Way of Story County,” Jiles said. “Of course, I’ll put some in anyway if they don’t beat me.”

The idea for this competition came about to help meet the College of Engineering’s fundraising goal of $25,000, according to Mary McGraw, co-chair representative for the College of Engineering.

“We had originally asked all the departments to think about contributing in a unique way,” McGraw said. “Dr. Jiles and his assistant, Sara Harris, came up with this.”

Among the participants that Jiles played against, one of them was even his own son, Richard. Richard, a freshman in electrical engineering, has been playing chess since he was five years old, but didn’t quite have the skills necessary to defeat his father.

“First of all, I thought I would be able to beat him,” Richard said. “And I’d be able to donate some money to charity, so that would be for a good cause.”

At the non-blindfolded competition this past Saturday, Jiles played a total of 12 games. In those 12 games, he won ten, lost one, and tied one.

Jiles says that he enjoys the game of chess because of the logic behind all the moves you must make.

“There are many attractive features, I think, to the game. It’s logical and you have to work out what happens if I do this, versus if I do those things in a different order,” Jiles said. “Sometimes in life you can do this, or you can do the other thing first; and very often we dilute ourselves into thinking that gets you the same result.”

The event took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the ECpE atrium in Coover Hall.

Jiles said he was very happy with the turnout and would be happy to hold an event like this again.