Chess team wins conference, competes at State


The chess team, with their new coach Paul Kash, after their win at the UEC conference championship. (Photo courtesy of Paul Kash)

By Sasha Baumgartner, Editor-in-Chief

In the State series on February 11, West Chicago Community High School’s Chess Team placed 52nd overall; they ended with 4 total points and a tie break of 39.3.

Out of seven rounds that the team played, the WEGO chess team won four rounds. Although the team did not reach their goal of placing in the top 25, they still managed to compete at the same level against all the other high school chess programs in the state.

“This year at state, it was pretty intense. There were a lot of tougher teams like IMSA that we played and most matches came down to the last board. However, we ended with our goal accomplished and it was a very fun experience as well with a lot of chess,” O’Brien said.

Chess team also placed tenth at the sectional tournament on January 28 at Lake Park High School in Roselle.

WEGO was one of 26 teams to compete at the event, winning two of its rounds (17-40.5 and 16-40.0), but losing two as well.

Individually, junior Chris Garcia was the team’s top scorer with four wins. Sophomore Peter O’Brien also scored well (3.5 points), and senior Miguel Garcia finished with a score of 2.5.

“This year sectionals were definitely something. Coming into the sectionals, we felt pretty confident since we were able to win our conference. While we didn’t do as well in our sectional as our conference, we still were able to win two matches, enabling us to be able to qualify for state,” junior Christopher Garcia said.

The defeat at sectionals came on the heels of the team’s successful bid at the Upstate Eight Conference championship on Jan. 21 at Glenbard East High School, where they placed first. 

“I think the best way to describe the team’s performance at the tournament would be a triumphant return. In the first round, we managed to get revenge against South Elgin, who had defeated us in the conference match about 1.5 weeks earlier. I’m very proud of everyone one on the team and how well they performed at the tournament. We have improved immensely from last year, and after seeing how we did in the first few conference matches, I had little doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t win the tournament that Saturday,” said senior and Chess Team leader Cameron Petrie. 

Previously, WEGO placed fourth in conference (behind Glenbard South (first), Bartlett (second) and Elgin (third), but this year, science teacher Paul Kash stepped in as coach of the 11-member team. While several members are in their third or even fourth years with the team, there were two newcomers this year, including junior Clarenz Bugay, sophomore Brayan Tecuanapa, and freshman Lucas Rudden.

I am very pleased with the effort and dedication to the team that the players have shown.  The success of this year is only the first step to becoming a perennial conference champion and Top 25 finisher at the state level,” Kash said.

The team, which practices in the science nucleus every Tuesday and Thursday, is always looking for new players. Those interested should see Kash in room 2443.

Petrie would describe the team as perhaps a “little eclectic” though never to the point at which their creativity detracts from game play.

“During every match, I’ll look over and see at least one person with a crazy position and at least one person up a piece. During practices we like to play fast games, strange openings, and interesting chess variants. There’s only so much you can do at practices to prepare for how you play in an actual match since the environment and time control are so different. We have a lot of fun during practices, but generally make productive use of that time and are very adaptable in actual matches as a result,” said Petrie.