Atkins HS vs. Freeport, Bahamas in Global Chess Partnership
The Atkins HS Varsity Chess Team finished a very tight race to clinch the Runner-Up spot in the 2016 NC K-12 State Chess Championship held the weekend of February 19-21 in downtown Winston-Salem. The team even hosted a chess team all the way Nassau , Bahamas in a special reception and tournament Friday evening as part of an online, global chess partnership.
All of the 22 players from Atkins HS competed in the K-12 under-1600 Division II and was by far the largest high school team represented. Atkins had 17 players at the championship last year, and 12 the year before. Finishing in 6th place in the overall individual standings was William Odom, who went 5.5 and 1.5. Chess players get a full point for a win, a half a point for a draw, and zero for a loss. Completely sweeping the under-1100 Class were three Atkins players: Lorenzo Battigelli, Brady Richardson, and Arel D'Agostino. Also contributing to the Atkins team score was Ali MIrzazedah, the team's strongest player with a 1580 rating.
Coach Scott Plaster said, "It was such a tight, exciting race and we should be proud of such a strong finish. I"m extremely proud of all our players. They truly represented Atkins well." In seven rounds of play, a team's score is the cumulative score of a team's top four scoring players. Going into Round 7, Atkins held a two-point lead, but Durham Academy battled back and went 4-0 in the final round. Durham Academy is a private K-12 school and has won the championship for several years in a row.
The team is assisted by Coach Tony Sanders who is a private chess coach who offers individual and small group instruction to players of all levels. He has assisted Ali Mirzazadah in achieving his high rating, and offers instructional videos and game analysis to Atkins players. "We are so grateful for Tony's help this year and look forward to his assistance in the future," said Coach Plaster.
Another highlight of the weekend was the team's hosting of a chess team from the Bahamas, who made the trip all the way from Nassau to meet the Atkins team in person. Atkins hosted a reception for their global comrades and then the two teams played an exciting three-round mini-tournament. The female player for each team (Aasha and Lizzie) won their divisions. The championship division between two teams was too close to call, said Plaster, who directed the tournament. Over the course of the weekend, the two teams had side games, discussions, and friendships grew as the partnership continues.
The global chess partnership began between Atkins HS in Winston-Salem, the Bahamas, and Moldova when the teams agreed to play online games on the online Chess.com website.