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The Student News Site of Prospect High School

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Chessed to impress

Chess team overcomes early season difficulties; enhances ability
Senior+Daniel+Derengowski+plays+a+practice+chess+game+against+an+opponent+during+practice+on+Nov.+28.+%28Photo+by+Justin+Peabody%29.
Senior Daniel Derengowski plays a practice chess game against an opponent during practice on Nov. 28. (Photo by Justin Peabody).

With all 10 of their regular season matches under their belt, the chess team’s regular season has come to an end. The team has played every other school in the MSL conference except for Wheeling, which does not have a competitive chess team. 

Although the team has experienced more losses than wins so far, chess team sponsor Matthew Love is optimistic about their future heading into their postseason. The postseason will consist of an MSL conference tournament at Prospect on Jan. 13 and an IHSA sectional tournament (location is TBD as of Nov. 28) on Jan. 27. It will finish with the state tournament in Peoria, Illinois, on Feb. 8-10.

Love said that the MSL conference is among the most talented conferences in the state, which means that the team usually faces more difficult competition during their regular season than they do during the postseason. In his experience, the regional, sectional, and state tournaments usually yield much weaker competition than most of the MSL teams.

“I have done this for five years now, and every year I’ve done this, all 11 teams at MSL always qualify for the state tournament because it’s that strong,” Love said. 

Love also attributes the team’s losses to the turnover of new players on the team, mostly freshmen and sophomores, at the start of the season.  It has taken several matches for Love to assess each of the many new players, their individual strengths and skill levels, and which of the eight boards they should each play at to best benefit the team’s overall record during matches.

Additionally, many players could not participate in most of the regular season due to their involvement in fall sports. Senior Daniel Derengowski, who is the second best player on the team, missed most of the season because of soccer practices. Love said that the absence of the strongest players made matches more challenging for the rest of the players.

“When you have a key player out like Daniel was a lot of the season, not only do you not have that player, but everyone else has to play up a little bit,” Love said. “…Our first match of the season was against Schaumburg, and we were not even close to full strength…Daniel was out…I think our varsity roster, now that we have everybody and I know how to use everybody, I think we’re a lot better than our record,” Love said.

The team’s most recent match against Hersey resulted in a loss, but it was a narrow loss that came down to just one board. Derengowski said that the losing margins were particularly slim at the top three boards. Derengowski played one of the top three boards at the Hersey match.

“Usually, the top three boards on our team will just lose, but this week, we almost split points at the top three,” Derengowski said. “So we did what we needed to do.”

In addition to being more experienced after playing several matches, Love said that the larger number of players has been an advantage as the season has progressed. This year’s team has more players than any other year previous.

For a few matches, 15 or 16 players have been available to compete instead of the typical eight. This allowed for eight players to compete in the official competition and several other players to compete in what Love calls a “Junior varsity match”, which has given some younger, less experienced players more opportunities to improve their skills and become more comfortable with competing in matches.

“Having a lot of freshmen and sophomores come in and get the kind of experience that they do in matches and in tournaments is really fantastic because you can’t get that experience any other way,” Love said. “So the future’s very bright.”

While the team will need to become more focused during practices to best prepare for the postseason, Love thinks it is important that they enjoy themselves while doing so.

“You always want people to have fun,” Love said. You always want to create a positive culture, where they’re having a good time…which I think we’ve achieved.”

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About the Contributor
Justin Peabody, Copy Editor
Hi everyone! My name is Justin Peabody, and I am a Copy Editor for the Prospector. I am currently a senior, and this is my second year on staff. I enjoy producing news and feature stories the most, but I have dabbled a bit in opinion writing as well. Outside of journalism, I run Mid-Distance Track. My favorite event is the 800 meter! I can solve the 3x3 Rubik’s Cube in under 3 minutes (if I’m lucky, under 2 minutes).

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