New sponsor, new success: Hillsboro chess excelling
The game of chess is a classic example of the mental struggle within strategy games. With classic masters like Bobby Fischer, it is often depicted as a game for old men on park benches.
In the case of Hillsboro’s high school and middle school, eight individuals might argue that point.
For the 2018 season, there are three members on the middle school team and five on the high school team, split among three girls and five boys.
“If you build the field they’ll come and play, that’s the way it is,” club sponsor Marilyn Bartel said. “Last year I was so nervous, I thought, ‘I’ve never run a chess tournament.’”
A self-described chess novice, she became the club’s sponsor last year to fill a need. Bartel’s sons, members of the club before they graduated, affected her decision heavily.
Since she is inexperienced, a student from Hutchinson Community College, and former member of the team, handles many of the typical coaching duties.
Bartel’s work centers on organizing the meet, buying trophies for the top finishers, and working concessions.
“They need someone to organize them,” she said. “They know how to play the game, and I just get them signed up for tournaments.”
Last week required extra amounts of work, since the team was preparing for Saturday’s home tournament. The most difficult part is the recruiting process, she said.
“It’s hard to get people to play chess,” she said. “I wish we had more, it would feel better if we had about 15 or 20 kids on the team.”
Despite the low numbers, the team has done well, Bartel said. They took first overall at Canton-Galva, and often have players among the top finishers.
“We usually try to do eight chess tournaments a year, along with state,” she said. “It’s a long season. It goes from September to March.”
Bartel looks for tournaments nearby, with the farthest destination being January’s trip to Hays.
The matches last eight hours, but each person has six matches, leaving them with ample down time.
To make use of the extra time, the members often refuel on food, practice, or just relax, Bartel said.