Checkmate: Manuals chess team places third nationally


Hunter Hartlage

Last week, JCPS superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens announced that two duPont Manual chess teams had placed nationally in the Chess Federation 2016 National K-12 Grade Championships.

The Manual senior chess team (consisting of Matthew McDonald, Keenan Bilyeu, Tommy Phan and Binu Godage) and sophomore chess team (consisting of Matthew McDonald, Keenan Bilyeu, Tommy Phan and Binu Godage) both took third place in the country in their respective grade championships.

Many Manual students won individual awards as well, including Matthew McDonald, who won tenth place overall in the twelfth grade championship.

Michael Crain (English), who sponsors the chess team at Manual, said that he’s very proud of the team’s achievement.  

“As far as our accomplishments, they’re great,” Crain said. “State championships and the nationals are awesome, but I am most proud these kids have stuck together and that they seem to be enjoying what they do.”

“It [the championship] was very nerve-wracking,” said Michael Harris (10, MST). “We were planning on winning first through fifth, because we knew we had a chance, ‘[be]cause we had such a strong team this year, so we were pretty ecstatic that we won it.”

Harris started playing competitive chess two years ago, when he was looking for clubs to join that could help make his application to Manual stand out.

Today, he’s part of Manual’s nationally ranked sophomore team and is set to become captain of the chess club next year. He said that he’s looking forward to being captain. “It’s pretty exciting that I’m gonna be leading this team next year, and hopefully we have better results next year too.”

“I would just encourage people to play chess and come to the chess club, because there’s plenty of nice people, and I would love to teach anyone who wants to learn,” Harris said.