Andy Huang defends Homecoming chess tournament title


Eli Tillemann

Defending champion, senior Andy Huang plays against Geoffrey Davis in the semifinals. They already have claimed victory for the seniors, and are now duking it out as a formality to see if Huang can hold his title as reigning champion.

Eli Tillemann and Malati Pandey

Senior Andy Huang, the victor of last year’s chess competition, won Jefferson’s Homecoming chess tournament on Sept. 22 during lunch in a heated game against senior Geoffrey Davis.

The chess tournament took place during two sessions over a five day period that Jefferson’s Student Government Association (SGA) live streamed on its Youtube channel. A total of 32 players, eight from each class participated in the tournament.  

The qualifying round, which took place at 4 p.m. on Sept. 18 digitally was between the top eight chess players of each grade, 32 students total.

“[The tournament] was really smooth. None of the players dropped out after signing up, which is really impressive,” junior Rushil Umaretiya, who organized the tournament, said. 

Despite the lack of tournament dropouts there were still plenty of surprises and a few last minute participants.

“I was going to a restaurant eating, it was 2:30, and then one of my friends messaged me ‘Hey, Max, can you play in the chess tournament?’ [The tournament] was that day [at 4:00], and I ended up getting home at 3:45,” sophomore Max Yan, a member of the sophomore team said. 

Yan was a last minute pick for the sophomores, and despite the fact he hadn’t played competitively in five years, he managed to make it past the first round of qualifiers. During qualifiers he defeated all other players in the 7th bracket before eventually losing to freshman James Wright, cementing himself in the top 16 Jefferson chess players. 

Yan’s performance was not the only surprise of the evening. The rankings submitted by the various chess teams in respect to each of their players were frequently misleading in terms of skill, leading some commentators to speculate several participants had inaccurately reported their statistics.

“They’re self-reporting their ratings, so a lot of the time they’re low balling their ratings by a lot,” senior Leon Jia, a commentator, said. 

The top four finalists consisted primarily of seniors with three members of the class of 2022 and a single junior reaching the final four. 

Played with the 5/0 method, the semi finals took place in-person between defending champion Huang, Davis, senior Garet Heller and junior Kisna Matta, who was a fan-favorite representing the underclassmen.

“[Kisna’s] our underdog here,” Umaretiya said.

Matta managed to get 3rd place, winning 50 points for the junior class. The final two were Huang and Davis, both seniors, who duked it out despite already securing Class of 2022’s place as the victors of the chess competition. 

“It’s just a formality at this point, but we still got to see if Andy can defend his title as the reigning champ,” Umaretiya said. 

Huang shortly won the tournament and is the reigning champion of the Homecoming Chess Competition at TJ. 

“[Davis] just expected to lose coming into it,” Huang said.