Chess team returns to the state tournament with enthusiasm


Courtesy of Srivatsa Vokkarane

Emotions run high as chess team prepares to go to Peoria for the state tournament

Tanay Pant, Spotlight Editor

The chess team will be leaving for the state tournament at Peoria Civic Center this Thursday. After qualifying for Sectionals, the team managed to break free from their losing streak and achieve the minimum requirement to qualify for State: two wins out of four. Neuqua and Waubonsie will also be going to the state competition.

For a majority of the team, this tournament will be the first state competition that they have participated in. As a result, the stress and tension in the team have risen. Junior Srivatsa Vokkarane is the vice-captain of the team.

“For most of us, this is the first time that we will go to a state chess tournament,” Vokkarane said. “Naturally, a lot of us are beginning to feel the pressure.”

Breaking to the state tournament also represents a comeback for the team, as last year’s team’s performance slightly suffered. While the team did make it to state last year, many currently on the team believe that their ability to beat tough opposition is a good omen for their performance at Peoria.

“Last season was not a great time for our team, but this year marks a turning point for us,” junior Jogeshwar Anish Bellamkonda said. “We had a tough opposition from Neuqua and Wabounsie, but we still made it to state anyway.”

While the team is looking forward to the tournament for the thrill and chance to play some of the best high schoolers in the state, many participants appreciate the opportunity to play more of the game they love.

“I love chess because of how simple it is,” junior Ayush Jain said. “From those few openings, you open up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities for both sides. You rarely play the same game twice.”

The team is also scouting possible members for the next year, sealing the team’s legacy for future tournaments. Sophomore Nitin Gopala is being scouted for next year and he is excited to have a chance to join the team.

“I play a few games with people around my skill level, and the coaches evaluate me to see if I will be a good fit,” Gopala said. “Everyone is always so helpful and kind on the team; you can feel the community. I want to be a part of that.”