Check Mates | WHS competes in 1st chess tourney

AJ Grutsch, Heather Baker | Editor in chief, staff writer

After two years of intramural WHS chess tournaments, WHS chess wizards finally had the chance to compete last week at Washburn Rural. 

This chess club, currently in its first year, was proposed by students at the end of last year’s chess tournament which got the ball rolling for over 20 students to sign up this year. 

After sponsor Jason Miller received board approval, superintendent Troy Pitch donated several chess boards for the students to use. Pitch was also the chess club sponsor at his previous school. 

Sophomore Payton Wurtz competes at the Washburn Rural chess meet. Photos by Jason Miller.

The Chess Club has already had several meetings discussing tournament rules and how the pieces move in the game. For several new recruits, this is the first time they’ve been taught how to play chess. 

So far there are 27 students in the chess club. Eli Oliver, Robert Potter and AJ Grutsch are all presidents of the club, forming a triumvirate. 

The club got a taste of competition Saturday and Washburn Rural. Robert Potter, AJ Grutsch, Matthew Vanstory, Shawn Moser, Heather Baker, James Poulter, Rhett Parry and Payton Wurtz competed. There is no separation of varsity or JV, and a point is awarded for every match won. 

Junior Shawn Moser competes at Washburn Rural.

Only the top four competitors are counted for the team’s overall score giving Wabaunsee a total of 8 points putting WHS in 6th place out of 8 teams. The tournament was open to all ages, including kindergarten, which made every match a gamble. “I didn’t expect the amount of younger kids that played with the high schoolers and I didn’t expect the amount of kids who knew how to play so strategically,” Vanstory said. 

This being Wabaunsee’s first tournament, lots of students didn’t know what to expect. Things like writing down what moves were made and using a clock were new. “The Chess Tournament was a great learning experience for our team and I expect to do better at the next one,” Moser said. 

Junior James Poulter cometes in chess.

Miller said he wants the chess club to be fun, but competitive. “I’d like to win the state tournament,” he said. This year’s state tournament is on March 11. The chess season runs from October to March. “You don’t even have to be in the club to go to the competitions,” Miller said. 

A scoresheet from one of Matthew Vanstory’s matches shows each move the players made.

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