Thursday, March 08, 2012

Young Chess Queen makes school history

Clackamas High School students take state chess title
Youth queen school’s first champion in strategy board game
By Raymond Rendleman
The Clackamas Review, Mar 7, 2012

Clackamas High School students made history by winning their school’s first state chess championship since the Oregon High School Chess Team Association was created in the 1960s.

CHS junior Alexandra Botez, who has traveled the world playing chess, took the top title for individuals. In one nail-biter late in the series, Botez forced one of her biggest rivals to resign after she simply took one of his pawns, leaving him unable to retaliate.

Botez has already received a scholarship offer valued at $110,000 starting in the fall 2013. The CHS varsity chess team also includes seniors Kevin Phuong and Gavin Megson, and juniors Kevin Rhine and Hai Dao.

Botez said it was a really great experience that trilled everyone in the team.

“We lost our last round, and ended up winning by tiebreakers, so we didn't expect it,” Botez said. “It was a surprise when we found out we were still in first place...The team had a lot of school spirit and we were proud to come back as state champions.”

CHS Chess Club adviser Mike Figert helped start the club eight years ago, but he credits students who “wanted to put together a club just to do some playing.” Gradually, their interest grew more serious until the students were asking Figert for help getting involved in tournaments.

“It’s so exciting that this is our first one, especially given where we’ve come from,” Figert said.

Science teacher Dave Castles and Ed Addis soon offered their help as coaches. The CHS chess club won the league championship for the first time this year, and the team thought they might have the horses to go all the way to the top.

“It’s always a great surprise to win a state tournament, but we felt confident going in that we would do well, and that turned out to be the case,” Figert said.

Clackamas also took the 6A title in junior varsity, so the club is feeling optimistic about repeating the feat in future seasons. La Salle College Prep just east of Milwaukie was also one of the three varsity co-champions behind Clackamas.


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