Chess brings home stack of medals

This previous weekend (Sept. 18-19), Perry’s chess team competed in the State Individual Invitational tournament. Winning four out of the 10 medals offered, the chess team is in a very good position for this weekend’s (Sept. 25-26) State Team Invitational. In the JV section, Bao Ngyuen (10th) won the medal for fifth place, Ryan Birn (12th) won the medal for second place, and Jayden Morishe (10th) won the first place medal. In the varsity section, Harris Lui (12th) earned a fifth place medal as well. 

The team is feeling confident concerning the upcoming State Team Invitational. Members practice on campus once a week for an hour. During practice, they are able to use each other as opponents to perfect their skills. The team had never competed in the optional State Individual Invitational Tournament before, but had unexpected and surprising results. 

Club sponsor Darrel Hammond is proud of the team’s efforts this past weekend. Hammond began the Puma Chess Team back in 2009 when he first came to Perry and was approached by a student to start the club. He has plenty of experience with chess and still holds a passion for the game. “I played when I was in high school, and then a couple years after high school I played competitively and USCF (United States Chess Federation). And then I haven’t played since then up until I started the chess club,” said Hammond. 

The invitational is an optional tournament that the club has not gone to in the past years due to it being out of town. “This year we’ve got a lot more involvement probably because of our finish last year. Last year we finished fourth in the state. So I had a bunch more kids who said ‘Yes, we want to go to it,’” said Hammond. 

The team has played all of the upper teams except for one. If they are able to win against everyone who is seated around them then they will be able to qualify for state a third year in a row. “We are in a good position right now because our current record in team competition is 3 and 3 [3 wins and 3 loses]. But all three losses are against the 1st, the 2nd, and the 4th placed teams in our region,” said Hammond.

Sophomore Bao Ngyuen has been in the chess club for two years and has additional years of experience from competing in junior high. He enjoys the competitive nature of chess and feels fully confident in his abilities for this weekend. “There was only one game I was really nervous about,” said Ngyuen. “I think we should be good, because we only have one more good team left to play.”

The next competition is a chance for the chess team to once again present their skills in front of an audience of other chess enthusiasts.