Chess Team wins the Virginia Scholastic Chess Championship


Dr. Ann Bonitatibus makes the first move for senior Praveen Balakrishan, who placed first at the tournament. ”It is usually customary for a famous person to start off a chess tournament by making the ceremonial first move on the top board. As States was held at TJ, I was delighted when principal Dr. Bonitatibus made the first move for me at the beginning of the tournament.” Balakrishnan said.

Christina Lu, Staff Writer

The Virginia Scholastic Chess Championship was held at Jefferson on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8. The Jefferson Chess Team won first place, and Jefferson students individually placed 4 out of the top 10 places with senior Praveen Balakrishnan in first, junior Justin Paul in second, senior Alex Jian in sixth, and sophomore Andy Huang in seventh. Club sponsors Dr. Peter Cabor and Dr. John Zacharias were also awarded a coach of the year plaque.

In this annual event, Jefferson has consistently scored high.

“No one can remember the last time TJ didn’t win. It’s been over 20 years,” Zacharias said.

Hundreds of students from kindergarten to college participated in this tournament that takes place in a different region in Virginia each year – this is the first time Jefferson has hosted. 

“Usually it’s at a completely different venue — that can be very off putting in a lot of ways. And for the commute, we usually rent a hotel. But this time, it was at TJ, so it was a lot more manageable,” Paul said.

Paul partially attributes the chess team’s success to eighth periods, which give students the time to practice.

“Very recently this year we started a chess tutoring program. More importantly though, you get better at chess from just playing games, and because you have two eighth periods to practice, you improve a lot,” Paul said.

He also believes the adaptive ability of the team is a factor.

“You can have a really good position, and lose it,” Paul said. “You have to be able to adapt to different situations. The biggest quality of chess is grit, and being able to roll with the punches.”