The four Signal Mountain school chess teams may not have brought home trophies from the state Scholastic Chess Team Tournament, but they came home determined to go back and do better next year.
“Going to state is a big honor,” Jacob Gravett said, “but I think we need to practice a little more.”
His teammate, Hannah Massey agreed. “We did not win any trophies, but I will do all my best to prepare for the next tournament,” she said.
Both are sixth graders who were members of the team from Signal Mountain Middle School. The state competition included 16 teams in each division.
Nolan Elementary’s team of second and third graders placed 8th in the Primary division for grades Kindergarten through thirrd grade. Team players were Nicholas Barrett, Oliver Nimon, Hinton Stefaniuk, and Adrian Andreescu.
“I wish we could’ve won just one more game,” Oliver Nimon said.
That probably would have meant a trophy since those were only awarded to the top 6 teams and Nolan was ranked fourth going into the final round against the team that ended up 4th overall. “I really, really want to go back,” Oliver Nimon said.
Also in the Primary division, Thrasher Elementary’s team placed 11th. Team members were Yuji Steele, John “J.J.” Massey, Erol House, Alex Williams and Harry Sedwick.
A team of sixth graders from Signal Mountain Middle School placed 12th in the Elementary Division for fourth through sixth graders. Team members were Jacob Gravett, Ruston Shome, Hannah Massey, and John Wallace.
A team of fourth and fifth graders from Thrasher placed 13th in that same division. Team members were Ian Campbell, Masaki Steele, Will Baker, and Max Sewell.
“Both Mr. Kodsi and I were impressed with the enthusiasm that our students displayed and the way they conducted themselves during the tournament,” said Bill Cheal.
He and Joe Kodsi teach students the game of chess on a volunteer basis after school once a week at each of the three local Signal Mountain schools. Ross Rogers assists at Thrasher.
They gave local students a pep talk during the weekly club meetings immediately following the state competition on Saturday in Cookeville, Tn.
At Nolan Elementary, Mr. Cheal reviewed the team results, where each player won two matches and lost two matches.
“What would have been better," he said, with a smile, “was if you’d won three or four matches.” Mr. Cheal noted that the winning Primary team from the Memphis area has won the state competition in that division eight years in a row now. He also shared that chess is part of the curriculum at the top four winning schools, and chess students from those schools play chess at school five times a week and that many of them play in other tournaments “just for fun” on Saturday.
Mr. Cheal encouraged local chess students to play in more tournaments so they can play different people and gain more experience.
The Steele brothers from Thrasher said playing in the recent state tournaments was “fun because we could play with new players. We learned many skills, " they said. “"We enjoyed the state tournament, 100%!"
Their coaches also encouraged local students to enroll in a Chess Camp that Mr. Cheal and Mr. Kodsi will conduct as part of this summer’s camp schedule offered by the Mountain Education Foundation.