BP Photo by Mordechai Heller

OPENING: Three simultaneous chess matches were held March 13 during lunch as part of the first round of this year’s Chess Club tournament. Confetti was left over from a celebration of the Girls Basketball team CIF win.

Freshmen step up as Chess Club gets more members and attention

Chess tournament heads to championship match Monday in the foyer

With what looks like a bright future, this year’s intramural chess tournament has been full of great matches and great upsets as well, according to senior Alon Keiter who runs the annual event and leads the school Chess Club.

The tournament began March 9 with 32 players in the first round and four additional players with byes to the second round.

“Last year there was a tournament and I kind of fell in love with it,” said Alon. “I ended up winning the whole thing… and so I thought, if I won last year, and it was a lot of fun, I thought it would be really fun to start it this year, and inspire and spread the fun to other people.”

This year, every game has taken place in the foyer in front of the gym, with a crowd huddled around the tables where the matches are being played.

Freshman and tournament finalist Etan Lerner said the crowds are not a problem.

“I don’t think about the crowd or the stakes,” said Etan. “Once I play, I’m mentally locked in, and nothing can distract me from playing the best moves.”

It is special that Shalhevet has something like this because not every school does.

— Etan Lerner, Shalhevet freshman and contestant.

While many returning skilled contestants and new skilled players won as expected early in the tournament, many unexpected wins occurred in the first round, too. Etan and fellow freshman Sam Jacobson both made it to the final four, and freshmen Gabriel Hazani and Yakov Liberman were both eliminated in the third round.

There were also upperclassmen doing very well. Alon and senior Boris Gueorguiev made the final four, and senior Elliot Serure made it to the third round, along with junior Joshua Gamson who lost to Boris in the second round.

After a semi-final match between Alon Keiter and Etan Lerner ended in a draw March 28, Alon then defeated Etan in a rematch the next day on the 29th.

Alon will face Sam Jacobson in the championship match on Monday, April 24, during lunch in the foyer, after Boris forfeited in his semifinal match to Sam due to not being available to play for four consecutive days. This led to Etan automatically place third in the tournament with Boris behind him in fourth place.

“This year it has been more organized,” said Alon. “People have been coming down at a more consistent rate to play the game.”

In regards to the future of the chess club, Alon sees a bright one, especially in the hands of the current freshmen involved.

Many freshmen also see a bright future for chess club and some are already hoping eventually to help lead it, not only their junior or senior year when people typically take leadership positions, but even next year.

Etan Lerner hopes the club will grow.

“I think that it is special that Shalhevet has something like this because not every school does,” Etan said in an interview.

Alon said Etan’s passion and his devotion to the tournament and chess as a whole was a good sign for the future.

“The thing about him is he loves the game of chess and just looking at him, he is always practicing all the time, doing puzzles, training,” Alon said. “He told me before our game that he did a lot of studying, and I really admire his passion for chess.”

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