It was whisper quiet Saturday as 50 players competed in the Buffalo Holiday Classic Grand Prix chess tournament.
There were no screams or shouts. No high-fives or ostentatious celebrations.
Yet, a palpable intensity permeated the atmosphere as players hunched over chess boards and monitored the time on clocks, trying to outthink their opponents in one of the oldest and most popular board games on the planet.
“I love the strategy, and every game is different,” said Jonathan Boone, a member of the East High Dark Knights chess program.
He had just lost his first of four matches in the kindergarten through 12th-grade section of the tournament at the Main Place Mall but was unfazed. “For me, losing in chess isn’t failure. It only makes me want to learn and play more,” said the 11th-grader.
Rating points and, often, cash prizes are at stake in chess tournaments connected to the national chess federation. So, the affairs take on a quiet intensity, unlike a casual game. Players’ points reflect their strength and are based on their results against other players.
This tournament was presented by The Archangel 8 Chess Academy and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr., and it represented one of the few opportunities Buffalo-area chess-lovers have to get a rating, as well as to gain experience against new and better opponents.
First place in the open division for all comers — one of four sections in the contest—earned $150 and bragging rights.
Jennifer Santora watched patiently from a distance as her son, Sam, competed in the Under 1500 section, denoting players with a rating below the 1500 level established by the United States Chess Federation. A grandmaster has a rating of 2600 and higher, while a novice is below 1200.
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