On Saturday, June 13, Michael Finneran hadn’t quite finished his freshman year at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. However, he won a chess tournament that day that made him the top high school player in Connecticut. The win came with an $8,000 scholarship to the University of Connecticut School of Engineering.
Of course he has to finish high school first.
The win also entitles him to be Connecticut’s entrant into a national tournament,in which just one student from every state is invited-the Denker Tournament of High School Champions held in Indianapolis this August.
Michael is getting to that championship pretty much the way musicians get to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. He also has a tremendous talent.
Neighbor Tony Fitsch saw him playing Stratego with his own son about four years ago and said, “If you like that game, try this.” He wrote down the rules for chess and showed him how to play.
“He’s got this amazing mind. He’s so analytical,” said Fitsch, noting that Michael also has “an astounding memory.”
“He can play whole games after he’s seen them played,” said the neighbor, who noted that he would occasionally sit on the front porch and play with him, but after about a year and a half, Michael had far surpassed him.
As Mike remembers it, “I played a couple of games and thought, ‘This is fun.'”
In fifth grade at the time, he then played with the Mill Hill Elementary School chess club and soon after went to his first tournament in Greenwich. He won.
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