Chess team looks toward endgame

Hayden Claesson, Reporter

LT’s chess club has come a long way: it has gone from some guys playing chess for fun, to an underground club run in Will Bernstein‘s ‘19 garage, and now has reached official club status and looking to compete at sectionals and state this spring.

“This is everyone’s first time playing competitive chess,” team member Michael Ahrens ‘18 said. “This was [the team’s] first taste of playing chess games that weren’t just for fun.”

The team at LT has goals of becoming more competitive as sectionals and state come around. The team has already qualified for sectionals by playing in three tournaments this year, Ahrens said. In order to prepare for the competition those teammates who have competed at those tournaments have been practicing at Bernstein’s house on Tuesdays after school with their chess coach Paul Kash, who is a teacher at Whitney Young High School.

“Kash is an amazing chess coach,” Bernstein said. “He helps us analyze our games and teach us strategy to get better.”

The chess team’s road to becoming an official club at LT has been long and tedious. The dream of becoming a team first started when a group of boys on the wrestling team, including Bernstein and Ahrens, had been playing chess on iMessage. The boys wanted to play more in person and were disappointed to find that LT didn’t have an official chess club. They then decided to make one for themselves this year, however their original sponsor, Jim Mshar, decided to not sponsor the team.

Despite this blow, the boys were determined to play. They found a coach in Kash to teach them skills as to how to improve as a chess player. This past November the team got the green light to become an official LT sponsored club from Peter Geddis.

“We have gotten a stipend and we had our first official practice,” Bernstein said. “The first meeting was exciting because we saw all of the people who are interested in playing chess.”

The team is now honing in for sectionals, which is at Hinsdale Central on Jan. 27. They are still meeting on Tuesdays and additionally meeting on Wednesdays to help prepare for the upcoming postseason.

“It’s hard to say if we will go to the state tournament,” Ahrens said. “We are a new team, and hopefully we can just get it started and keep the team going after I graduate.”