Vidalia High students win state chess tournament

Published 12:53 am Thursday, April 3, 2008

VIDALIA — Even though its earliest form started in the sixth century, for a group of Vidalia High students the game of chess never gets old.

And they’re good enough at it to take state.

Formed during the 2006-2007 school year, the club took second place in the Louisiana State Scholastic Team chess tournament that year, and they topped that this year by finishing first.

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Individually, seniors Brian Beard took fourth place, Quintien Garretson took fifth place, Phillip Moss took eighth place and junior Jeremiah Alford took 18th place in the competition.

Practicing during lunch and a free period during the school day, the team members took a trip to Metairie earlier this year to practice for state, but it was Saturday that they headed to the big show.

The team had to leave at 4:45 a.m. Saturday to get to the tournament in Baldwin, where the competition was set up like a sports tournament, with a top team paired with a bottom team and the winners advancing to the next round, club sponsor Olga Purvis said.

The first three rounds of the competition lasted 30 minutes apiece, and the second three rounds lasted approximately 45 minutes apiece.

Beard won one game in less than a minute, but in Moss’ last game, he played until time was almost up.

“I used 40 minutes, but I wasn’t that worried about it,” Moss said.

That long game was well worth it though, because that game — a tiebreaker against De La Salle High School — won the tournament for Vidalia High.

At the chess tournaments, there isn’t the usual trash talking one might run into at a high school competition, Beard said.

“I was the only one who would really talk, who would make people laugh,” Beard said.

With state now behind them, the team only has one more thing to do — pick up the pieces and play another game.