Central Middle School reinstated its afternoon Chess Club this year by popular demand after a year hiatus. Forty-five students signed up. On March 6, the top four chess club players met at Broadway Books and Roasting Co for the tournament to determine the next school champion.
All the top players were from the sixth grade. Samartha Shrestha, 10, was favored going into the tournament, with 14 wins, 1 draw and no losses from the two tournaments leading up to this one. The young sixth grader’s academic record had enabled him to skip the fourth grade.
The outcome of the tournament was far from certain, however. Reed Dicksen had been a close second in the semifinals. Garrett Jackson had handed Shrestha his only tournament draw to date, and Bailey Sheehan once had a winning position against Shrestha in a previous encounter.
Jonathan Budil, the match arbiter and CMS chess coach since 2005, decided to enforce the touch-move rule: players must move the first piece they touch on their turn, if it has a legal move. The players had been informed at the start of chess club that this was the way most chess tourneys were run, but had not been required to abide by it until now. This may have been a game-changer for the players who were not as adept at visualizing their next move in their heads without picking up a piece on the board.
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