April 20, 2018
School & Youth
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  • (L-R) Ryan Bonner, Lincoln Boyle, Court Barrett and Dennis Underwood (bottom) represented St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School at the Severn Scholastic Chess Tournament in December.
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    (L-R) Ryan Bonner, Lincoln Boyle, Court Barrett and Dennis Underwood (bottom) represented St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School at the Severn Scholastic Chess Tournament in December.

Checkmate: St. Martin’s Chess Team Wins First Place at Severn Scholastic Tournament

Alyson Kay
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January 10, 2018

After what coach Tom Barrett described as a “grueling” six hours, St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School topped six other teams and won first place in the elementary division at the Severn Scholastic Chess Tournament in December.

Each player competed in five games. Leading the charge was Lincoln Boyle, who placed third overall, along with teammates Court Barrett and Ryan Bonner. A new player to the team, Dennis Underwood, notched his first chess trophy by placing Top Under 200 in the Novice division.

Since Tom Barrett started coaching on Mondays in 2013, the team has ranged from 12 to 32 kids. A few factors determine how many kids are on the team at a given time. “It all depends on what time of year it is and if there’s any other sports going on at the same time,” Tom Barrett said.

The teams are assembled for each tournament based on how they participate in classes and practices. In order to play in a tournament on Tom Barrett’s team, a player needs to practice to show that he or she is committed to the sport and wants to improve.

Although it might not look like it, chess is a team sport. A player’s success depends on the amount of time spent playing against other people and online. “It takes everybody playing each other, practicing against each other to do well. You just can’t do it on your own,” Tom Barrett said.

Practice doesn’t have to occur during classes. Lincoln Boyle was unable to attend some of the practices before the tournament, but he practiced against his parents in preparation. During the tournament, Lincoln surprised Tom Barrett with how much he had improved.

Lincoln feels that he and his team did well in the tournament, especially considering the size of the team. “My team played well,” Lincoln said. “We only had three people and a lot of teams had four.”

Ryan Bonner, another teammate, also felt that the team did well, but he wasn’t as satisfied with his own performance. “I didn’t get many points, but I got a few,” Ryan said.

Chess tournaments are often long, mentally challenging events that can last entire days. “These events aren’t just, ‘Hey, let’s go out and play chess,’” explained Tom Barrett. “They usually start at 9:30 in the morning and some of them last until 5:30, 6:00 at night.”

The length of each game depends on a competitor’s ranking. Players who haven’t been playing for long, like those on the elementary teams, usually don’t spend much time analyzing their moves. Because of this, the players at lower rankings usually play more games per tournament.

Playing chess isn’t the only highlight of the tournament for the players. Another member of the team, Court Barrett, also enjoyed the social aspect of the tournament. “I got to hang out with my friends and make new friends,” Court said.

The St. Martin’s chess team went to the seventh annual Greater Baltimore Scholastic Chess Tournament on December 16 but didn’t win any trophies. The team’s next events will be the chess championships, which will be held on March 17 for middle and high school students and March 24 for elementary school students.

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