Chess Club sweeps first tournament

The Chess Club traveled to Prairie Point Middle School to make their first tournament appearance since the pandemic.


Athena Wu

Before the tournament, Nathan Chen explains some rules to young competitors.

Athena Wu, Print Entertainment Editor

The West High Chess Club sent two teams to the 2023 Iowa Scholastic Match-Play Team Championships, held February 25th at Prairie Point Middle School, their first tournament since the beginning of the pandemic. The tournament was split between a K-6 section and Jr. and Sr. High section. Teams of four played against each other in a fixed lineup.

West took both top spots in their section: Niko Nixon ’25, Kyros Wu ’28, Benjamin Kleiman ’24, an Kai Merrill ’25 won first place, and the other team, Anish Lodh ’23, Shivy Mannengi ’23, Kyle Chi ’23, Erik Whittaker ’23, and Aman Reddy ’23 placed second.

Because of the disruptions from the pandemic, this was one of the largest tournaments since the pandemic shut down in-person events, with over a hundred competitors. “I’ve been to lots of scholastic tournaments and big people tournaments just to organize and direct”, Nathan Chen ’23 leader of Chess Club says, “but this definitely was the biggest, biggest scholastic one by far not just by school selection, but. the Elementary School section.”

The strong elementary turnout was mostly from one school: Coralville Central, which Chen is also an alumnus of. He helped teach the students online throughout the pandemic and is still coaching things shift in person. Due to both the pandemic and the old coach leaving, membership dwindled. Despite all the obstacles, the club has recovered. “We just started in-person meetings this year. And at first, I didn’t know what to expect, because we’re coming back from like, three years, maybe file completely just online known person tournaments. But we’ve grown to back to maybe about 35 kids.” Chen says.

For students in both sections, many were participating in their first tournament. Some members of West High had played chess when they were younger and were competing for the first time in years.