Chess team breaks six-year win streak at state tournament
As champions for the sixth consecutive year, the chess team had become accustomed to victory at last year’s CalChess Scholastic State championship. This year, however, they came in second to Mission San Jose despite strong individual standings among the four team members.
The two-day tournament, held from April 2-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, was the official statewide chess championship. Teams from northern California were the primary competitors, although several schools from southern California traveled upstate to compete as well.
Saratoga’s four-person team felt the loss of two ‘10 graduates, Charles Sun and Rolland Wu, a factor that junior team captain Evan Ye says contributed to their loss to Mission San Jose High School.
“Going into the tournament, we didn’t really expect to win, because out of our four team members last year two of them graduated,” Ye said. “Mission’s team was far stronger.”
The team, composed of sophomore Kevin Garbe, juniors Brian Wai, Sankash Shankar and Evan Ye, and senior Amol Aggarwal, came in second place with a score of 14 out of a possible 24, while Mission
San Jose grabbed the lead with 16 points.
Team scores were the summation of each school’s top four team members’ individual scores.
Individuals earned 1 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw and 0 points for a loss, with a total of 6 possible points because there were six rounds. Saratoga’s scores came from Garbe, who placed tenth with a score of 4.0; Wai, who placed 13th with a score of 4.0; Ye, who placed 19th with a score of 3.5; and Shankar, who did not place with a score of 2.5.
“Individual scores are based on our own performance, whether we win or draw or lose,” Ye said. “The team score is just a sum of the individual scores, and it’s much easier to win as a team than as an individual.”
Garbe said that because the team had lost two top-scoring players, they did not expect to win this year. In addition, due to the heightened competition at the tournament this year, they were not disappointed to come in second.
“It was really competitive this year, more competitive than usual,” said Ye. “I wasn’t really
disappointed because we had already set a record with six consecutive wins.”
Additionally, Garbe attributes the random nature of the game pairings as another factor contributing to their loss to Mission San Jose. In the six-round Swiss tournament, players were pitted against players from other schools at random.
“In my opinion, there was a lot of luck in the pairings,” Garbe said. “For example, I ended up playing two of the top three players in the tournament. There were some lucky rounds and some really unlucky rounds.”
Next year, the team hopes to place first despite this year’s blip in their win streak since they won’t be losing any players.
“We have a decent chance, I think,” Ye said. “Chess is almost a dying sport [at Saratoga], but we’ll still have our team next year. We’re going to make the best of it before graduating.”