Harvard High School’s Chess Team heads to Peoria Thursday afternoon to compete in the Illinois High School Association’s State Tournament. First board player Chris Alvarado hopes to earn an individual medallion at the tournament. He will need to win six rounds throughout the tournament to achieve the honor.
Second board player Matthew Seisser had played chess casually before joining the team his freshman year, but it was through consistent practice and studying the “thought processes of grandmasters” that he saw real gains in his playing abilities.
Though the team lost 14 seniors from last season, three freshmen joined the team for the 2017-2018 school year. Freshmen Jacob Chupich, James Johnson, and Riley Oerkfitz had spent frequent lunch periods playing chess at Harvard Junior High School.
The team uses their practices to play quick five minute games as well as to learn strategy for opening, middlegame, and endgame scenarios. Coach Jason Gomez explains that successful play is “all about pattern recognition” and so Harvard’s players improve through repeated play. The team will put their practice to the test when the tournament begins on Friday.