Estacado concludes year with enthusiasm for a game of chess
Estacado chess coach plans for fall semester
Posted: May 31, 2013 – 9:32pm | Updated: June 1, 2013 – 12:42am
By Ray Westbrook
Chess has become one of the most popular electives at Estacado High School, and Jonathan Whitfill, instructor and coach, already is planning for the fall semester.
When an administrator suggested a chess program a few years ago, Whitfill seized the moment.
“I said I would love to,” he said. “So, we started a program and played a little bit before and after school and at lunch. We started going to tournaments and started winning a lot of them.”
Referring to Estacado’s principal, he said, “When Dr. (Samuel) Ayers got here and petitioned to get a legitimate chess class, they said we could do that.”
Then, Whitfill began moving his student players across a virtual board toward serious tournaments.
“We went to Abilene two years ago and completely destroyed the Midland-Odessa region. Just walked in, took all their trophies.
“They didn’t invite us back this year.”
Whitfill and his players were not depressed:
“We went to Amarillo this year and did the same thing.”
One of his star players, sophomore Zachary Ramos, defines his interest in chess this way:
“It uses your mind. It helps you make your mind smarter, and at the same time you get to play with your friends.”
He searches for words to explain the fascination for chess:
“It’s a game that gets you thinking, and it’s pretty fun. I plan moves ahead — I look it out and I kind of see what my opponents are seeing, and I use that to my advantage.”
He added, “In case they do make the move, I will have something already ready.”
Tiamara Payne, a graduating senior, sees chess as a game with many moves.
“I really like how I get to meet new people all the time,” she said. “Constantly you meet new people.”
Referring to an added dimension of chess, she said, “There’s a couple of girls in chess and they are helping me become better as a person.”
She said chess helps her concentrate. “Actually, it’s very helpful.”
Referring to the venues for the school’s chess tournaments, she said, “So far, I’ve been to the Science Spectrum for my very first time, and to Midland, Amarillo, and a lot of tournaments here.
“In my first tournament ever, I won two of my four games. I was so excited.”
Does she win consistently?
“Not really — but I have won some.”
For the fall semester, Whitfill wants to arrange a larger stature of tournaments, and he already has conducted tournaments in cooperation with the Texas Tech chess program.
Whitfill said, “I have been asking for years to have the tournaments here at Estacado, and this year is the first year we have done that. We broke records — I think the most we had was 195 playing students, and we had almost 300 people here with the parents coming to Estacado.”
With this year’s completion of study in tactics and various chess openings, the students are just waiting for their first move when school begins again in the fall.