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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Chess team still going strong, takes aim at sixth straight state championship

Senior Charles Sun racked his brain, digging deep for a move that would outwit his opponent. Then it came to him, a far-fetched series of coordinates that could win the game. There it was, after grueling hours analyzing an eight-by-eight chess board, Sun finally had a checkmate. Then came the thrill of victory at the National Open tournament in 2006 in Las Vegas.

Sun’s victory is no surprise for the nationally ranked chess team, who hope to win state this year to maintain their five-year winning streak.

The chess team had its beginnings in 1998 with parent Stayton Chock when his son David Chock, class of 2008, was in third grade. The team was originally a club for elementary aged kids and played together throughout middle school, gaining members and experience. At its peak in 2002, the team included 35 students from Redwood and Argonaut. That year they placed second in the state tournament for their age range, according to Stayton Chock, the current team adviser.

As they then improved, they began to dominate the state CalChess state high school championship, and in 2006 they decided to attend the National High School Chess Championships in Wisconsin, where they placed third out of 50 teams

This year the team only has seven players: seniors Sun, Rolland Wu, Amol Aggerwal; sophomores Brian Wai, Even Ye, Sankash Shankar, and freshman Kevin Garbe. Although none of the original members remain, the team is still going strong thanks to the David Chock, who coached Wai, Ye, Shankar and Garbe while they were in middle school.

“They were decent players before he taught them,” said Stayton Chock. “But by April, they came out of nowhere to defeat much higher rated teams to win the CalChess state junior high school championship.”

In the past Stayton Chock coached the team, but now most of the boys turn to an outside coach named Michael Aigner to learn new strategies.

“All we do as a team is get together once a week and play the games but we get coaching on an individual basis,” said Sun, the team captain.
Despite not practicing together, the team still bonds at long tournaments that can last up to 10 hours and take three days to complete.
“That’s usually more than enough time to get to know each other,” said Sun.

Another attraction that seems to draw to team together in this individual-based game is their love for chess and the mental challenge it poses.
“Chess itself is a pure hobby. But it really helps players to memorize attack plans and how to plan out their next moves, something they need to do in high school, college and life in general,” said Stayton Chock.

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