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Waynesboro chess team has 'a ridiculously good season'

April 20, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • Brian Wengert, left, and Austin Olson play chess Tuesday afternoon at Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Senior High School.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Waynesboro Area Senior High School's chess team proved last weekend that it has all the right moves when nine students traveled to Ohio for the U.S. Chess Federation's National High School Championships.

Players earn points throughout the competition season. Waynesboro's students divided into smaller teams based on their rankings for the national competition.

The unrated team won seventh place overall. The under-800 team earned 23rd place.

Student Adzhar Madjid ranked second overall, losing a tiebreaker after the final round. Adzhar, an exchange student from the Philippines, said he had a case of nerves entering the final of seven games.

"I just took my time," he said.

Club adviser Chad Atkinson said he's taken teams to nationals a half-dozen times in the 22 years he's been involved. He's never before taken so many students in one year.

"We had a good group this year," he said.

The team, which participates in the Mason-Dixon Chess League, won the lowest of three divisions during the Pennsylvania championships. The national competition featured more than 1,400 players, only 38 of which were from Pennsylvania.

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Senior Joe Needham, who won four games and a tiebreaker at nationals, said he enjoys spending time with friends when they practice twice weekly after school.

"I have a lot of fun doing it," Joe said, adding that he finds the mental aspects intriguing.

Adzhar said he entered the national competition unsure of some of the rules.

"I made a big mistake in the third round because I played a 10-year-old," Adzhar said. "I got my queen for free. I saw him get teary-eyed and I gave it back."

Each player has two hours on his clock, so the game can extend to four hours, Joe said.

Five of the competing Waynesboro students are seniors. Joe and Adzhar said they've been playing chess for only a couple years.

"Every practice I get better and better," said Adzhar, 16.

"We had a ridiculously good season. We only lost one match," said Joe, 19. "Everyone did fantastic at nationals."

Other students who went to Ohio were seniors James Clement, Lucas Franki and Brian Wengert; sophomores Eric Wengert and Austin Olson; freshman Archie Cooley; and Atkinson's son, J. Slate Atkinson, a seventh-grader.

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