Monday, December 8, 2014

Freshman Tournament has Knights in Checkmate

Thomas D’Aquila | Staff Writer for "The Mount"
The freshman dorm is filled with intense feelings. Anticipation and rivalry charge the air as students gather together. The reason?  A chess tournament involving the freshmen class. The room grows quiet to only a dull murmur as the students make their move. It moves slowly, as the freshmen make decisions “Chess is a game that is not for the impatience,” said Jimmy Severa, a freshman.

“It’s intense,” said Armel Migondje, a freshman, said of the tournament’s atmosphere. “After the game, the loser is sad, but it’s still cheerful, playful and good sportsmanship.”

Photo by Jacob Tucker
 Jack Avilla ( middle) spectates as James Nowdesha (left) 
competes against Emmett Kenney (right) in a chess match.
For Tim Struckman, freshman dean, the idea to have unplugged activities is sup­posed to be a build community. “At the beginning of every freshman year, I try to limit the electronics,” Struckman said. “I want the boys to interact and get to know each other and board games are a good way to pass the time.”

Thirty freshmen, both day students and boarders, are competing along with Struckman and Jack Pritchard, the as­sistant freshman dean. The first prize: bragging rights and the privilege of going to lunch first for the rest of the semester. “

The tournament works as a two bracket system. Stu­dents play after school, before study hall or after study hall. Trying to fit day students into the picture provides a challenge. But that’s not the only reason not all of the first match­es are made. “Many people are stalling on their matches,” Struckman said.

The tournament started in an organic way. The boys wanted to see “which out of them is the best” as Struckman put it. This is the second year for the chess com­petition, and it is also Struckman’s  second year as freshman dean.

“I’m proud of the participation,” Struck­man said. Many freshmen who have never played chess have been enthusi­astic, but the better players also have been conducting good sports­manship, according to Struckman. “More experienced players have been coach­ing the less skilled players,” said Struckman. “I was impressed with the ‘no-fear attitude of some students who have never played.”

For students that are helping others, there is a certain sense of accomplish­ment. “I feel like I am helping someone,” Freshman Matthew Thiel said.

“[During the matches]I can start conver­sations with people and we can be inter­ested in chess,” said Severa of the casual nature of the tournament. “You can’t talk at [state] competitions, you’ll get kicked out.” Severa has gone to chess competi­tions with in a club at his grade school, of which he has been a part of since the third grade. Although he has not been going with the same frequency due to school, the opportunity of playing now is a treat. “We have fun competing against each other,” said Severa.

Adjusting to high school is a difficult enough task for any freshman. Living at school presents itself with its own set of challenges. Luckily, students have their own way of bonding together which can soften the blow of homesickness.