Vikings on the Board


Isaiah Adeleke

Checkmate! Chess team practices against bot to get ready for their next competition

Isaiah Adeleke, Editor-in-Chief

Homewood-Flossmoor’s chess team is wrapping up its 2021-2022 regular season with a record of 5-3-1 and placing second in their conference.

During the 2020-2021 season this chess club went 5-4-1 but with a similar record as the previous year, chess club captain Samuel Starkenburg still believes they are an improved team.
“Being back in person helps and we have a lot of new underclassmen which has improved our team”, said Starkenburg.

Freshman Everett Van Til is a part of those new underclassmen who have helped improve the team. When asked about how he gets better at chess Til responded, “When I see I’m bad at chess endgames (for instance), I’ll study chess endgames but for the most part it’s a lot of practice.
Chess is not the physical sport that football or basketball is but that does not mean playing chess is easier than any other sport.

Chess is a game that takes skills and a lot of patience and is just as hard as any other physical sport. When asked about what is the hardest part of the sport, Starkenburg responded “Keeping focusing for the whole entire game which can take up to three hours is pretty draining and tough”.

Being captain of any team is a huge commitment and it is no different for the captain of the chess team Starkenburg.

“As captain, I try to lead my team through all our competitions, sometimes we have to make decisions if we want to play a different format such as longer or shorter games. I just try to motivate and make sure everyone knows the best strategies,’’ said Starkenburg.

Coaching chess is also different from coaching other sports due to the fact that the sport is based on intelligence and strategy rather than physical attributes.
Due to that making a game plan to win as many matches as possible at different meets differs from meet to meet.

“I consider the role of a coach to be very similar to my role as a teacher in the classroom. I encourage them, and I promote teamwork and leadership. I do not focus on losses but I try to help them strengthen their game through reflection (reviewing old games) and I give the players tools that help them improve their performance.” said 2nd-year head coach, Tiffany White.

Something that separates the H-F chess team and other teams in the conference is the program head coach, that White recently started utilizing.

“We started using it when we were virtual…within the chess program students are able to take lessons and hence improve on their skills, specific tactics, do puzzles, play with each other and people all over the world, and analyze their previous games…it has been an instrumental part of our chess program.”, said White.

With sectionals coming up White plans to improve the teams are “working on our strength order, and ranking our players to the correct board to maximize our ability to win and score points”, said White.
This obviously worked well as the team got 52nd at the ultra-competitive state competition from teams everywhere around the area.

For anyone looking to improve at chess can come to the TLC on Tuesdays after school and utilize the chess program along with the rest of the chess team.