Club History

Chess at Drexel has a great history and a lot of people that got the organization to where it is today.  I am not actually sure if all this is right and need to look into it more but I thought that at minimum it should be compiled.

Brief Drexel Chess History

The Drexel Chess Club has been active since 1972, when it was formed. The club would go to tournaments and generally facilitate the skills of club members.

The PSCF keeps record of the collegiate championship back to 2000 (I do not know if it was held before then.) Drexel won second place college in 2000, only behind Penn State, and won first in 2001. This set off a chain of success from 2000-2004, in which Drexel finished in the top 3 all years, including another first place in 2004.

In 2005 and 2006 Drexel did not place, and in 2007, from what I can see, the collegiate championship did not give awards to top college. However, this is not confirmed, and if someone has evidence to confirm or deny this please let us know, it would be very helpful to have. What we do know is that in 2008 Drexel won the college championship again, beating Pitt by 3 points. This set off a winning streak in which Drexel won every year until 2011, peaking in 2010 when Drexel scored 15 points, the highest to date by the club. To date, no college has won more years in a row.

Unfortunately, the following year, the club was on hiatus. I do not know if it was because everyone graduated, but regardless of the reason, entering the 2012-13 season, the club did not exist. However, in 2013, Aravind Ponukumati resurrected the club with help from Jiachen Zhang and Nelson Zhang (unrelated). They did not attend the collegiate championship, but club activities resumed. Drexel attended the state championship in 2014, and with a team of only 3, placed 4th in the state.


    • Bryan Johnson-1972-1976?
    • Unknown-1976?-1993
    • Tim Souder-1993
    • Herb Lau-1995-1996
    • Lan Somsonith-1997?
    • Jason Diperstein-1998
    • Stan Hwang-1999-2001
    • Beth Carroll-2001
    • Derek Bowen-2001-2002
    • Attila Fabian- 2002-2003
    • Gennadiy Geyler-2003
    • Dmitry Goldenburg- 2004-2005?
    • Jack McCarney-2006
    • Charles Gibson-2007-2010
    • Alisa Melekhina-2010-2011
    • Aravind Ponukumati-2012-2014
    • Joshua Cohen-2014-2017
    • Nate Schultz-2017-2019
    • Daniel Bowers-2019-Present


    • Lan Somsonith-1995-1996
    • Ed Tracy-1996-1997
    • Matt Thoman-1998
    • Sara Wray-1999
    • Aditya Mittal-1999-2001
    • Beth Carroll-2001
    • Derek Bowen-2001
    • Tom Henderson- 2002-2003
    • Dmitry Goldenburg-2003
    • Mathew Hoephel-2007
    • Robert Pisch- 2007-2008
    • Jack McCarney- 2008-2010
    • Charles Gibson-2010-2011
    • Eric Most-2012-2014
    • William Yang-2014-2015
    • Brian Romero-2015-2016
    • Ayush Agrawal-2016-2019
    • Kenil Patel-2019-2020
    • Gil Axelrod-2020-Present

Vice Presidents

    • Mathew Hoephel-2007
    • Robert Pisch-2007-2010
    • Jiachen Zhang-2012-2013
    • Nelson Zhang-2012-2014
    • Aravind Ponukumati-2014-2016
    • Amira Mefteh-2016-2019
    • Manpreet Parihar-2019-2020
    • Alex Gerlach-2020-Present

Event Coordinator

    • Zhouhai Liu-2014-2016
    • Brian Romero-2016-2016
    • Paul Milano-2016-2019
    • Rohan Joshi-2019-2020
    • Kenil Patel-2020-Present

Other History:  Emails (shortened)

From: John Riley 1/29/09

I recently stumbled upon the web site and took a quick look at the history and thought I could provide some more tidbits which you can choose to use (or not).  Tim, Herb, Lan and Ed Tracey were all around (Ed a year later) at the beginning…

The club you seem to derive from was started in 1993 with the support of the honors program (now the honors college).  I believe there was a previous version of a chess club prior to 1993, but it was not associated with the honors program. Basically a couple of masters/experts who went to Drexel and played every now and then (at least 91-92,  maybe before then as well). Unfortunately, I don’t have any extra information on this group.

I believe in 1994 or 95 we won the Amateur Team East U1400 title (I’ll have to find the nameplate thing we won). We also won the PA state championship a couple of times (probably the first 2 or 3 years at least)…

Anyway, I thought I would contribute what little I still remember about that time and glad to see the program still continues today.

John, member ’93-96

From: Bryan 12/24/09

My name is Bryan Johnson and I formed the Drexel Chess Club in 1972. Our club was quite active in the 70’s.  We had a radio chess match with U of Missouri-Rolla, had an simultaneous exhibition by an expert, a lecture by a master, and traveled to Columbus, Ohio twice to play in the Pan Am’s.The second time we went to the Pan Am’s, we sent letters to past club members in the 1930’s to ask for money.  We competed well and took home a B prize.

Bryan Johnson
Drexel grad 1976

(Page updated 5/12/17)