Chess Club holds tournament against Crooms

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photo by James Lopez

Freshman Gavin Mutchler makes a move during his second match of the tourney. The team fell short of winning it all but took second and third overall.

Hagerty’s Chess Club suffered a tough loss against Crooms at their latest tournament at Hagerty which took place on Dec. 2. The Hagerty team consisted of eight members with sophomore Julian Lorenzo taking second place and freshman Gavin Mutchler taking third.

“I had hoped that we would win, but you got to stay positive. You can’t go into a match saying, ‘Hey, guys, we’re gonna lose,’” club president Antonio Pizza said. “You got to go in saying, ‘Guys, we may lose, we may win, but we’re gonna give our all.’”

Held in the media center, the tournament was organized as a bracket system with double elimination, meaning  players must lose twice to be eliminated. The club is less than a year old, and the experience level between them all is split with only half the members knowing a lot about strategy and tactics.

“It’s a one-on-one conversation, unlike most sports where it’s kind of a lot of teamwork,” Pizza said. “You’re representing your team when you go out there and you have to put it all in for your team. It’s just you, [so] you can’t really blame it on another team member.”

The chess club was started by Pizza halfway through the last school year with not a lot of members. Through the course of this school year, though, more underclassmen started to join the club. This has allowed the club to participate in tournaments and make their own, like this one. 

“We’re kind of independent, so we had a rocky start,” Pizza said. “Hopefully over the years, there will be a lot more teams and we can do a lot more tournaments.”

Pizza’s inspiration for starting the club and the team itself was his love for chess. Since he was a kid, he enjoyed how different it was compared to other sports. 

“I was just awful at sports, but chess, it’s the ability to control what’s going on,” Pizza said. “In sports, you can’t control what direction the ball is going to go and what’s going to happen, but in chess, you can kind of predict what move the other person is going to make.”

Practices, which take place every Monday in 4-113, consist of one-on-one matches which allow more experienced players to teach people newer to the game how to approach certain situations. There have been talks to expand the club to other board games besides chess to gain more members. Though they haven’t expanded yet, that hasn’t stopped them from taking the opportunity to play other games and growing their connection with each other.

“We practice playing chess with each other, but we also work on team bonding skills,” junior Jamison Harvey said. “We have a really tightly packed community here at the Chess Club.”

The team has only competed in two tournaments so far, one against Crooms and one against Winter Springs. Winter Springs has a far more experienced chess team, which contributed to the loss. The club hopes to be able to host more competitions and even a county-wide tournament with as many schools that are willing to participate. 

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