Chess players check skills with mates

February 21, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Chess Tournament results.

BOONSBORO -- Competition was intense Saturday at the Boonsboro Middle School gymnasium.

Home team sixth-grader Amanda Frey maintained her position on the court with steely determination. When she found herself trailing her opponent, she raised her hands in front of her and warily tapped her fingertips together, contemplating her next move. At times, she raised a pencil to her lips. But she never broke a sweat.

Her game was more intellectual than physical.

Amanda was among 118 chess players who turned out for the second annual W. Paul Engle Jr. Open and Scholastic Chess Tournament.

Amanda, 12, competed against 15-year-old Tarun Lava of Germantown, Md. Tarun played it cool throughout the match, sitting still in a puffy black parka with his eyes riveted on the board. Tarun is a member of the Northwest High School team and has competed at the national level. With just five of his allotted 40 minutes left, Tarun spotted a break.


"I saw checkmate," he said.

With that, Tarun won the match. Following tournament protocol, the two players returned their pieces to starting positions, shook hands and reported the match results to officials. Despite the loss, Amanda spoke of the value of the tournament and looked forward to four more rounds.

"It's been really cool preparing and getting all the tables ready," she said. "We were practicing and going over strategies."

About 80 tables covered the playing area. Players from counties throughout Maryland and the rest of the four-state area filed into the gym for play in various divisions in open and scholastic categories.

The Pleasant Valley Elementary School and Boonsboro Middle School chess clubs sponsored the event along with the Maryland Chess Association.

Mike DiLeo, chess coach at Pleasant Valley Elementary and Boonsboro middle and high schools, said when he began coaching several years ago, his teams always needed to travel to the Baltimore area to compete in tournaments. He decided to work with the Maryland Chess Association to organize a local tournament.

"Last year was the first-ever chess tournament in Washington County," DiLeo said. "It was a lot of fun. It's an intellectual game. It takes a lot of time and concentration."

DiLeo said he tries to teach members of the chess club structure, discipline and sportsmanship through the game.

Christian Brown, 10, of Keedysville, was two for two at the end of the second round. He said he won first place in the nonrated division at the 2008 tournament, and he was confident entering round three.

"I feel great about it," Christian said. "I'm not sure I will win first place, but I'm going for it."

Minutes later, he emerged from the playing area victorious.

"I won in four moves," Christian said. "I did the four-move checkmate using my bishop and queen."

Julius Wade, secretary of the Maryland Chess Association, directed students in chess strategies and exercises in the waiting area between matches. He gave Maurice Chandler Jr., 11, of Baltimore, a lesson on the proper use of rooks. Wade told Maurice to keep the pieces on the back lines.

"Back in ancient times, at night, rooks walked the walls," he said. "The rooks need to be there."

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