Chess club qualifies for state

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Chess club has been around since 2009, but they have only been competing for the last five years. This year was the first in which the team qualified for state. In the previous years of competing, they did not have enough participation to have a chance at regional competitions. However this year, with more participation than any other year, they finished their season far better than was expected. 

When competing in chess, there are five players who are in the “varsity” spot. These are the five boards that matter during tournaments. The other players fill the “Junior Varsity” spots. When it comes to qualifying for state, the team’s rankings are cumulative. Every competition matters. Chess club sponsor, Darrell Hammond, revealed that they were behind Chaparral High School in the rankings, taking the sixth spot. At the last tournament, Chaparral did not show, which bumped the Perry chess team up to spot five, allowing them to go to state.

Making it to state was a surprise for the team. Out of the five regions in the state, the region Perry competes in is the toughest. Hammond mentioned, “because our [region] is the toughest and we’ve never made it to state before, we don’t really have those expectations, but we were happy and pleasantly surprised.” 

The team’s best player, Adithya Sivakumar was only able to play in one tournament so he was unable to go to state this year. Without their best player, the chess team was not expecting to play as well as they did. 

This year the five boards at state were filled by Chirag Jagadish, Matthew Valenzuela, Jacob Wise, Gabriel Hammond, and Aidan Feldman. Jagadish was the only player to qualify for individual state, but Hammond and Feldman went as alternate players. The alternate section is made up of students who didn’t qualify for state. Jagadish went into state seated as 35th out of 64 individuals and he moved up to 26th. Aidan Feldman went in 19th out of 60 and moved up to 5th place. Gabriel Hammond was seated 15th out of 60 and moved up to take the second place medal.

As the players continue through the season they have a rating, which goes up and down based on how they play in the tournaments. According to Darrel Hammond, “Jacob Wise had the biggest upset this year in our region. He was rated in the 500s and he beat a kid from Hamilton who was rated above a thousand.” Since he beat another player who’s rating was over 500 points higher, he won the medal for biggest upset. The team had several medals awarded to them this year, which, as Hammond shared they “have never gotten any [medals] in previous years.”  

Coach Hammond anticipates the team to be successful next year as well. Having only one senior in their “varsity” spots, they hope to keep most of their best players next year and gain some more as well.