Chess tournament brings out best in freshmen

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Photo by Quinn Williams

Kamalu Segundo (left) said he knew a little about chess prior to entering the fall tournament going on now in Mr. Rickard’s room.

There’s a new game in town: chess.

For the past few weeks, freshmen have been gathering in Mr. Kaholo Rickard’s room to compete in a lunchtime chess tournament.

“I really had no idea there was that much interest in chess, but it [seems] like there are, and the more that the games go on, the more people seem interested to play,”said Mr. Rickard, Algebra I teacher.

The two-week long 2015 Fall Chess Tournament began on Monday, Nov. 2, with 16 competitors, all of whom were freshmen. The tournament continues to Friday, Nov. 20, and the winner will be awarded with a brand-new, quadruple-weight chess set and board.

The winner of this tournament is not allowed to enter the upcoming tournament in the spring.

The tournament was advertised through word of mouth, and when word got out, 16 freshmen quickly jumped to sign up. Spots were filled right away, according to Rickard.

The tournament idea came about when Mr. Rickard and Hawaiian Culture teacher Kumu Lōkahi Antonio noticed that the freshmen seemed interested in chess.

“We [Kumu Lōkahi and I] enjoy chess, so we just kind of play with it once and a while, or watch them [the students] play,” Mr. Rickard said.

So, the two teachers decided to start with something small to bring together the chess community, like the chess tournaments.

Mr. Rickard said the long-term goal is to further the chess tournament into a “full-functioning chess club, where you learn strategies, where you don’t just play blindly, you play with a plan in mind.”

Mr. Rickard also said that because chess is a game of strategy and thinking, the club will teach beginners to have more advanced-strategy thinking and learning.

Many of the chess players who entered the tournament came with prior knowledge of how to play.

Games are played with clocks that give each player 7 minutes in the 14-minute game to either checkmate, lose or run out of time. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to drop by to watch the contests during lunch.

Mr. Rickard records all games that go on in the tournament. Kumu Lōkahi then analyzes the games and transcribes the moves. Both the video and the notes are then posted to Mr. Rickard’s chess blog for students and others to watch.

“If there’s more interest, I don’t mind doing a longer tournament,” Mr. Rickard said.