When you walk into a room with 1500 high school students from all over the state you feel like you have walked into utter chaos. Somehow everyone seems to find a seat and the words “Shake hands and start your clocks” sound in your ears and then you hear - utter quiet. You look around and everyone is still there but there is not a sound to be heard as 1500 students play chess in the State Finals. There are 133 teams with 8 players per team. You can feel the tension in the air. In the 2 days of the tournament each of the students will play 7 games. Many of the games take 2-3 hours to play. At the end of the two days they are exhausted yet thrilled to be a part of the challenge, pitting their mind against their opponent’s.
Mt. Vernon’s chess team was a part of this and coach England was very pleased with their performance. We again won 3 of our 7 matches and came very close on 2 of those that we lost against much higher rated teams. In both of those close matches it came down to the very last game in each set and the outcome was in doubt until the very end. Each year we move a little closer to the top. This year we got to play some of the top rated teams and we finished 74th out of 133 teams. That is the best that we have ever done but it is not the best that we will ever do. At one time in the past we were rated 129 out of 130 so we have come a long way but there is still a lot of room to grow – and we will.
The highlight of our performance came on Board 3 when David Wininger took 9th place out of 137 competitors. This is only the second time in our history that we have had someone place in the top 10 on any of the boards. (Chris Milburn placed 9th on board 1 in 2009.) David won 6 out of his 7 games. On board 1 Adam Brazell won 3 out of 7 and placed 66th out of 138. On board 2 Conner Buretz won 2 and had a draw on one placing 101st out of 135. On board 4 Alex Richards won 4 out of 7 and placed 41st out of 139. Thierry Papazian won 3 out of 7 and placed 66th out of 141 on board 5. Jeffrey Rivera placed 133rd out of 149 on board 6 winning 1 out of 7. Ryan McKinley placed 45th out of 180 on board 7 by winning 4 out of 7. Jesse McPherson placed 28th out of 217 on board 8 winning 4 out of 7.
We have a very young team and they did very well. Only four of the 8 had been to the state meet before. It can be very intimidating to walk into a room with 1500 competitors and know that every one of them there wants to beat you. This year I will lose only one senior and hope to add some more talented competitors next year.
Many people think that chess is boring, but the 25 people standing quietly, watching intently, the last game of the second match between Webber High School and Mt. Vernon would disagree! There was a tension in the air that could be felt . . .
The Mt. Vernon Chess Team won Saturday, January 8 at the Gateway Chess League Class Tournament in St. Louis. Nineteen teams competed in the tournament. "This was our best meet ever," according to coach, England. Everyone on . . .