Students Create Chess Tournament

Sophomores raise awareness about chess

Sophomores+Cameron+Cason%2C+Marshall+Haggar%2C+Will+Signor+and+Braxton+Giffin+play+chess+in+the+library.+The+library+has+several+chess+boards+where+students+can+often+be+found+playing+the+game.+I+love+chess+because+of+all+the+interesting+intricacies+of+it%2C+its+such+a+fun+game%2C+Carson+said.+

Photo by Matteo Winandy

Sophomores Cameron Cason, Marshall Haggar, Will Signor and Braxton Giffin play chess in the library. The library has several chess boards where students can often be found playing the game. “I love chess because of all the interesting intricacies of it, it’s such a fun game,” Carson said.

The 2022 Chess tournament, hosted by sophomores Paul Ibbotson and Artem Ephanov, began on Nov. 6 and aimed to conclude before Thanksgiving break.
“We got the idea around the beginning of the year when we were all kind of into playing chess after school,” Ibbotson said. “It was actually [Jennifer] Hampton who gave us the idea.”
The ultimate goal of the tournament was to determine the best chess players in the school, respective to their skill level.
Games began at 3:30, directly after school, and generally took about half an hour to complete.
The tournament had three individual brackets, including the advanced bracket, the adept bracket and the amateur bracket. To place players into their respective brackets, Ephanov and Ibbotson examined each player’s rating on Chess.com and had them fill out an open-ended survey.
“[The website] has an Elo system which looks at your record when you play a lot of matches and assigns you an Elo which increases if you win and decreases if you lose,” Ibbotson said. “It’s a great way of [assessing] a player’s skill without really knowing them.”
Once players were sorted into their brackets, Ephanov and Ibbotson sent out emails to all the players, providing them with the specific times and dates of their competitions. More people signed up this year than Ephanov and Ibbotson expected, so they initially had to turn down many people’s requests to play.
“It’s unfortunate that some people weren’t able to participate,” Ibbotson said. “The form is definitely not perfect, and if someone had lied on it, they might have been able to get into a higher or lower bracket than they really belonged.”
However, some players who were let into the bracket originally ended up canceling, allowing most people on the waiting list to participate.
Ibbotson and Ephanov have expressed regrets about starting the tournament so close to Thanksgiving break, claiming that finishing all of the games in a short period would be difficult.
“Timing has definitely been an issue,” Ibboston said. “Because we’ve been rushing to finish this before Thanksgiving break, every time someone misses their game, it causes some problems.”
Ibbotson and Ephanov have allowed some participants to play games via Chess.com to meet this strict deadline because the website enables people to play virtually.
Despite chess becoming an exceedingly popular game in the district, there is currently no formal club. Ibbotson and Ephanov hope to change that at the beginning of the second semester.
“Recently, like post-COVID-19, there has been a bit of a resurgence in the popularity of chess,” Ephanov said. “I think it’s because of [media] like “The Queen’s Gambit,” but it’s really helped get chess back into the mainstream.”
This belief was part of Ibbotson and Ephanov’s drive to host this tournament, as it has allowed them to both gauge the student body’s interest in chess and helped them spread the word about the chess club.
Ultimately, Ibbotson and Ephanov have declared this event a major success and hope to host another tournament next year, planning to change the nerdy stigma surrounding chess.