Chess Team Wins Southeastern League (Summer 2013)

By Aaron Dunigan-AtLee, Mathematics – East
 
Sturgis 2013 Chess Team

Sturgis 2013 Chess Team

The Chess Team at Sturgis East made news this spring by winning the Southeastern Conference Interscholastic Chess League. In addition to Sturgis, the league is composed of schools in Wareham, Fairhaven, New Bedford, Dartmouth, and Martha’s Vineyard. Teams from each school play against each other in weekly matches throughout the winter sports season, then the top two teams play in a 3-round playoff series in March.

Aaron Dunnigan-AtLee Gives Play by Play Analysis

Aaron Dunigan-AtLee Provides Play by Play Analysis

This year, the top two teams were Fairhaven High School—who have won the league for the past three years—and Sturgis. The first two rounds of the playoffs were hosted here at Sturgis, and were very close matches that could have gone either way, right up to the end. In the end, each team won one round, so the third, tiebreaker, round was played at Fairhaven. This was also a tense nail-biter match. With about 5 minutes left to play, Sturgis was winning 2-1 with two games still in progress: Joey Benedict on Board 1 and Jonah Greenberg on Board 2. Both games were almost even in material, and with so little time on the clock, the players had very little time for thinking. But both Joey and Jonah were able to eke out an advantage in the final minutes of the match and checkmate their opponents.

This victory was very exciting for the Sturgis team. Some of our graduating seniors have been on the team for several years, so this was a culmination of hard work and growth throughout those years. Others are new to the team, and we look forward to their continued participation and growth in the years to come.

Chess Tournament 001

Chess Tournament Warmup

Perhaps as exciting as winning the league trophy is the amount of interest in chess that is being generated at Sturgis. Although the chess club officially meets only two days a week, almost every day at lunchtime there are students playing chess in Mr. D.A.’s classroom, with sometimes as many as 20 or more students showing up. During break or after school, and even during study halls, students can be seen playing “blitz” chess (fast-paced timed games).

Students who do not participate in the club have expressed interest in and support for the team. During the two rounds of the league playoffs that were hosted at Sturgis, the games were relayed via computer to a classroom, where spectators could watch and Mr. D.A. led commentary to explain the tactics and strategy involved in each game. Many students as well as teachers and parents came by to see how the team was doing and cheer them on.

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Chess Day

Mr. D.A. is excited about continuing to expand the opportunities for chess at Sturgis. Although the team format of the league promotes camaraderie and a sense of school spirit, it only allows five students to play at each competition. One of Mr. D.A.’s goals for next year is to try to give more students opportunities to play in formal competition. Participants next year can look forward to a chance to play in weekend tournaments in the Boston area that are individual rather than team-based, as well as the possibility of a tournament hosted right here at Sturgis.

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