More than 1,500 high school students compete in IHSA Chess Tournament

By WEEK Reporter

February 15, 2014 Updated Feb 17, 2014 at 12:20 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- More than 1,500 high school students gathered at Peoria's Civic Center to play in the 40th Annual Chess Team State Tournament.

It was the largest chess field tournament in history with 138 teams, more than 200 coaches and 1,500 players.

"It's the culmination of their season," said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Scott Johnson.

"I love chess," said Junior from Northboone High School Devin McFadden. "It's very hard thing to do, a lot of people can't do it, and it takes a lot of skill."

"There's just something about playing a game that's all about your mind where you're just putting your intellect on the board, and having a direct intellectual battle with someone," said form State Champion Whitney Young High School Alumnus Michael Auger.

The tournament room could only be described one way...quiet.

"It takes a lot of concentration because it's a game of strategy," said Junior at Grand Community High school Brock Lundman.

"You got to be quiet while holding it in so you got to try and focus it on the board," said McFadden.

This tournament is for team chess.

"There are eight players on each team, they play eight simultaneous matches. The best player on each team are matched up and so on," said Johnson.

The win of each match up is worth a different number of points. The higher you're ranked, the more points you earn for your team if you win.

"If you lose those first three boards the whole match is just done," said Whitney Young High School freshman Bailey Baker.

Luckily, there are seven rounds. Winning the tournament is something most of these teams dream for. Many of them have been practicing all year long.

"It's such a great feeling. It's something that you know your whole life you're going to hold on to, and it's representative of your hard work," said former State Champion Michael Auger.

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