Chess hopes to continue success despite loss of top players

September 5, 2008 — by Brian Tsai

This year’s chess season will be different from past seasons due to the graduation of two students, David Chock, the highest-rated player in SHS history, and Marvin Shu, another top-seeded player. Coach Stayton Chock will still be heading the team.

Three talented freshmen, Sankash Shankar, Brian Wai and Evan Ye, on the bright side, have joined the team. Wai and Ye currently place within the top five of the team roster, which is determined by ratings. Shankar may also be added to the top seven.

The team prepared for the upcoming season with the Labor Day Chess Championships, an individual event held at San Francisco. Seniors Kumar and Alex Lun, junior Charles Sun, sophomore Amol Agarwal and Shankar, Wai and Ye attended the tournament. Players completed six games and competed within a rating section of their choice, and those who placed within the top three of their categories received money prizes.

Most players from Saratoga chose to play in more difficult rating sections, while others blundered against lower-rated opponents. As a result, many received mediocre results, scoring less than half of the total possible points.

“At times, it was pretty frustrating, but I guess I’m glad I went through [the experience] because it’s helping us put more work into chess and improve our games,” said Lun. “It definitely helped prepare us for league because it was kind of a wake-up call to tell us to work harder and play better.”

The tournament was also important in deciding the final team roster. Since Kumar, Lun and Shankar are all within 20 rating points of each other, they will be fighting for the last two spots in the top seven. The new ratings from the tournament will come out mid-September.

The tournament was not only a chance to gain rating points but also an opportunity for some team bonding. The current members got to know the incoming players a little better.

“We got to talk to them a lot more than we would have at school,” said Kumar. “It was good getting to know other people on our team, especially since we didn’t really have any new people come in the last couple of years. When these three freshmen came in, we had to get to know and support them.”

Now that last year’s seniors are gone, the current seniors have much more responsibility.

“[Being a senior] is kind of different but you know, it’s just like a change of roles,” said Lun. “Now we have a bunch of new freshmen to deal with, so now we’re the ones in charge.”

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