KAIAC chess tournament allows students to showcase their abilities

On Feb. 20, the second of three KAIAC chess tournaments took place at International Christian School at Pyeongtaek (ICS). For the first time this school year, the varsity chess team took home all three trophies—Jason Choi (11), Seehyun Park (10), and Haram Cho (11) winning first, second, and third place respectively. The three secured their wins through the play-offs, during which a computer system pairs two random competitors up for each round. The points are then calculated, and the top three players with the highest scores place respectively.

“The tournament this year was small due to the fact that we only had about three or four of the schools [that usually participate] show up,” said Seehyun. “Regardless, this was my first time seeing the people who usually placed in the finals not show up, so that caused excitement among many of us. The competitive atmosphere also helped each of the players play to the best of their abilities.”

In preparation for the first tournament of the second semester, students invested large amounts of personal time, often staying after school up to twice a week to sharpen their skills. With such practice, teammates felt comfortable showcasing their abilities, and many players consequently ended up with improved results.

“We put in more effort for this tournament,” said Bright Chong (10), varsity team member. “Despite our heavy workload, we sacrificed a lot of our time both at and away from school to polish our chess skills. I think the sacrifice really shined through this tournament and I was able to witness the improvements of all my teammates as well. Although [the tournament] was very competitive, I believe each player was able to maintain a calm mindset and pull through until the end.”

According to his teammates, Jason particularly devoted himself to develop an improved play to secure his first place. Not one of the usual top contenders, he began at a relatively lower value on the rating system, a quantified indicator of the chess player’s standing and record. But in addition to practicing with the team at school, he also set aside time at home every single day, often spending hours to utilize new playing strategies. His perseverance and dedication to the sport allowed him to exhibit a more aggressive play, a difference from the reserved style he performed in previous competitions.

“I think my win was a well-deserved win because it reflects the fruit of my labor,” said Jason. “I believe persistency allows people to achieve what they wish for. Just two years ago, I started off with an average rating of 800, but with constant practices, it eventually shot up to 1700, and I became one of the stronger SIS chess players.

The members of the SIS chess team hope to continue to bring in good results, and are working towards their goal through the practices and meetings that they have set before the next tournament in April. As Jason puts it: “Persistency with a bit of mouse clicking enables us to become who we wish to be.”