This Friday, Feb. 10, East’s Chess team is set to head down to Peoria for the IHSA State Chess Tournament.
Coming off of a successful season, the Chess Club makes their return to the state championship for the fourth year in a row. Following a nine and one first place conference finish, the Wolves are aiming to take home a top 25 finish in this year’s state competition.
Club sponsor Kurt Gulbro attributes this season’s success and accomplishments to the team’s chemistry and hard work.
“The kids have worked really hard to get here and we know we can place in the top 25,” Gulbro said. “Keeping them loose is a big thing. There’s a lot of cohesion on the team, they really enjoy each other’s company which helps with not thinking yourself into a hole.”
Chess club member Oliver Heffernan said that he agreed and that the club’s hard work led them to a spot in State.
Heffernan said in order to prepare for State, the club trained with Mr. Watson, an international chess master to help them sharpen their skill sets and weaknesses .
“We’ve ramped up the practice, not in time but in rigor. We’re always playing and working to improve,” Heffernan said. “We’ve been working with an international master to go through games we’ve played and find mistakes that we made in our matches. We’ve been trying to work together and teach each other new openings and in game analysis.”
Other members of the club see this work paying off, one of those being senior member Allison Mersman.
“Mr. Watson has helped us improve greatly over the season. He helps all of us see our games in ways we never would have imagined and that readiness helps a lot,” Mersman said.
With their goals in mind, the Chess Team will make their way down to Peoria ranked 39th out of 121 teams – the highest ranking in school history.
Whatever the outcome may be at state, members like Mersman are soaking in the final competition of this season.
“It is bittersweet because it’s our last, but we know we will have a blast no matter what and that we are capable of placing where we want to.”
The Wolves will compete in the tournament Feb 10th-11th at the Peoria Civic Center.
Samantha Trujillo is a staff editor for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl