Last month, Lowell’s chess enthusiasts added more trophies to their collections and went on the road to compete at the national level.
Primary School Chess Championships
Winners in the K–2 division:
1st place: Alexis Ukaegbu
2nd place: Laila Ukaegbu
3rd place: Kingston Brunson
Winners in the 3rd–5th grade division:
1st place: Nathaniel Freedberg
2nd place: Luca Pier
3rd place: Hunter Phoenix Neimat
In the tournament, each player competes in five games. No player is eliminated in the tournament, and every game counts. Tournaments are challenging for young chess players as they have to stay quiet and not give other players hints.
Many of the players in the chess tournament also participate in Lizzie Sadoff’s popular chess minicourse. Lizzie has been teaching chess at Lowell for 15 years. In the course, she reviews historic games so children can practice analyzing and anticipating moves. She also reviews concepts that all good chess players should know such as the four most important spots on a chess board and the three main principles of chess—controlling the center, developing your pieces from the beginning, and protecting your king by using a move called castling. “Until further notice those are the only things you need to know about strategy and chess,” Lizzie emphasizes to her students. As students play, she celebrates their “brilliant moves” on the white board.
Chess Team Returns from Dallas
Last weekend Lowell’s team—Aidan Becker ‘21, Ben Mannes ‘21, Max Fitch-Connelly ’21, Ethan Vandivier ’21, Elias Weetjens ‘21, and Diego Zein ’21—competed against 35 other teams in the K-9 under-1250 bracket of the National Junior High US Chess Championship. Brackets are determined by the players’ ratings, and players compete against others who are equal to or higher in skill level. Lowell’s players are rated around 800, so competing against players at the higher skill level was a challenge. Luckily, the team is well-practiced in recording each move in their games, and with the help of their coaches they could review the games and learn from their mistakes.
The team played hard and worked well together learning and growing as competitors during the three-day competition. Parent Elaine Fitch said, “Lizzie, her husband Jerry, and her son Johnny were unbelievable coaches. They deserve to be recognized for their commitment and inspiration to the team and to Lowell.” While the team did not return with any trophies, this won’t be the last time that Lowell will compete on the national stage. The team is already making plans for next year’s competition!