Chess Club players say they find game challenging

The Magnet Tribune: Jesus Hernandez
Team Captain Adrian Orozco plays against teammate Peter Salinas during a recent practice.

Nikolas Herrera

Jesus Hernandez, Staff Writer

Chess Club players say strategy is a challenging part of the game.

“Coming up with the strategy,” is what art student Alejandro “Cricket” Bernal said about the challenges chess presents.

Team Captain and trumpet student Adrian Orozco, who has been playing since he was 5 years old, said he looks for ways to win games.

“I find new creative strategies to trap my opponents,” Orozco said.

Piano student Jose Mondragon also discussed how he plays.

“It’s difficult because I’ve played three different people from other schools and at that time I knew little about chess or strategies, and they kind of figured me out easily,” he said.

The players don’t know what to expect when they compete in tournaments.

“I feel nervous at the beginning of each competition because I don’t know my opponent, and I don’t know what strategy they’re going to use,” Bernal said.

Chess is a fun learning experience whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. It’s for anyone. It’s easy to learn but hard to master.”

— Jose Mondragon

Orozco named two teams that are the toughest the group has faced, so far.

“The Nuevo Laredo team and United High School team because they seemed to have more experience and they knew more strategies,” Orozco said.

Although the team has placed once, Bernal won second place in his first competition.

“I was surprised because I never thought I would place second. I never thought I would even place at all,” he said.

Practice and competition are two different situations, the players, all seniors, say.

“When you practice you’re familiar with everyone and maybe you can figure out the other persons’ moves when you play against them, but when it comes to a tournament it’s a bit hard because you don’t know how the other person thinks and you sort of get nervous because you don’t know what they’re going to do next,” Mondragon said.

Bernal agreed.

“During practice you get to try your skills and during competition you apply them,” he said.

The players said they don’t plant to be part of a chess club after high school.

“Chess is only a thing you do as a past time, and maybe I’ll teach it to my kids,” Bernal said.

Mondragon also agreed.

“I would probably buy a chess board, maybe like a Star Wars chess board, for fun,” he said.

The players said they have improved since joining the club.

“Yes, I’ve improved and learned a lot more strategies from the (team captain),” Mondragon said.

Club sponsor and social studies instructor Raul Flores discussed his work as sponsor.

“I make sure students get the latest information on tournaments. I’m also in charge of choosing practice dates and setting up meetings to discuss rules or any changes. I follow what the United States Chess Federation says,” Flores said.

Flores said the team has improved.

“We won second place as a team at the last tournament, so I’ve seen an improvement in them,” he said.

Flores, who said he had played chess but not competitively, has enjoyed his first year as sponsor.

“It was fun having a chess team from VMT and hopefully more members join the Chess Club next year,” Flores said.

Mondragon said everyone should try to play chess.

“Chess is a fun learning experience whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. It’s for anyone. It’s easy to learn but hard to master,” he said.