West Michigan Students Shine in Online Tournament!


by Karen, the student’s Mother.

Evan (12) and Ryan (10) learned chess when they were each five years old. They started attending tournaments in 2018, beginning with an unrated tournament in Ludington and then the Holland Open, the annual event from the Holland Chess Academy. These tournaments were divided by grade level instead of chess rating. Evan placed first in K-3rd and then fourth in 3rd-5th. Ryan placed fourth in K-3rd and then first in K-2nd. They have played in about 3 live tournaments per year since then. They spend some time each week studying chess, playing chess online, or playing their dad in chess, but they also have too many other extracurricular activities like baseball, swimming, tennis, snowboarding, piano, and violin, not to mention backyard lightsaber battles, hanging out with friends, and video games like Clash Royale.

With the beginning of COVID, they realized they would not be able to attend in-person chess tournaments, but they still wanted to compete in rated tournaments. They signed up for the virtual 2020 Illinois Class Championship after their mom received a random email about it. In order to be eligible for the cash prizes, a player had to be monitored via a Zoom video call. They chose the side view for the Zoom call, so most of the devices in the house were tied up for the day. They both played well. Evan tied for second place in the U800 division. This is the first tournament in which Evan won a cash prize

Evan says, “I think the online tournament was great. The Zoom video worked perfectly. I’m glad I could still play a serious tournament during COVID. It was awesome to actually win some cash!”

Ryan says, “The tournament was fun. I was glad to win a game. The other players were tough. It was neat to see all of the other players in the Zoom video. They were thinking hard.”

Ryan and Evan like the camaraderie and competition that chess provides. Their mom is also happy about the tactical skills and logic that they’ve acquired. She is glad that they are able to compete in something with so many different levels and have fun with chess. These analytical and strategic skills will transfer to many other subjects, hobbies, and even careers in the future.

Download this PGN of a game from Evan, annotated by our own Henry Rankin. It was an impressive win!

NOTE FROM GRCC: We are proud to support Evan and Morgan as they have begun attending the GRCC weekly gatherings. We see a bright future for them and are excited for them to continue to enjoy the game moving forward.

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