Chess team repeats as county champions

February 10, 2011 — by Shivani Chadha

Junior Brian Wai looked Monta Vista student Harsha Nukula in the eye. It was the last round; the score was tied and the pressure was on. However, with a few swift moves, Wai beat Nukula, giving Saratoga the necessary lead to defeat Monta Vista win the county championship.

The tournament took place at Monta Vista High School on Jan. 29, and Saratoga once again defeated rival Monta Vista, Gunn and Lynbrook.

The day-long tournament consisted of about 60 players total. Saratoga brought a team of nine players who beat out the Matadors in a tie breaker. The two teams were tied with total team scores of 12.0 and Saratoga won the tie break 40-39.5. In terms of scoring, a win is one point, a draw is half a point, and a loss is zero points, with each person on the team playing five games.

The players had a big task ahead of them because the team has won the championship for the past four years in a row and aimed to defend the title. The team has also won first place in the state championship for the past six years, beating out rival school Mission San Jose in the final round last year.

Though it will be a challenge for the team to repeat as state champions after losing graduated seniors Charles Sun and Rolland Wu, the county championship is a good place to start.
Team captain junior Evan Ye was proud of his team’s exceptional performance at the tournament.

“This tournament was definitely a huge learning experience and a humbling one as well,” Ye said. “I was amazed at how many of the players competed against ridiculously strong people.”

The success of individual players played a large roll in the team’s success. Ye placed second overall, junior Brian Wai placed fourth and junior Sankash Shankar placed seventh. The top three scores totalled to 12 points and were counted towards the team standing.

To prepare for the tournament, team members met twice a week during lunch in adviser and math teacher PJ Yim’s room. The team also participated in an online league in fall and played against other schools virtually to get ready for future matches.

Many players made their competition debut in the tournament, including juniors Anshu Siripurapu, Vineet Jain and Sabrina Cismas.

“Even though though the tournament was exhausting because it was all day, I had a lot of fun,” Jain said. “I hope to be more active in the club and participate in future tournaments.”

This was the team’s first tournament this year, and the team competes in three to four large tournaments this year. The next two tournaments will be the Denker Quals in March and State Quals in April.

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