Students test their skill at the 2024 Spring Scholastic Chess Tournament

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Students from all throughout the Mountain State descended upon John Adams Middle School in Charleston Saturday, to test their skills in the 2024 Spring Scholastic Chess Tournament. 

Hosted by the West Virginia Scholastic Chess Association (WVSCA), in association with the United States Chess Federation (USCF), players from kindergarten through 12th grade competed in three age-brackets to see who would emerge as the proud holder of both bragging rights, and some killer trophies. In attendance for the tournament were West Virginia’s State High School Champion Tristan Johnston of Grafton, State Middle School Champion Lance Pitrolo of Bridgeport, and 45 other competitors looking to etch their names into the history books. 

“The biggest challenges are locating the schools that actually have a chess program,” Tournament Director and WVSCA State Coordinator Bob Greer told RealWV. “Some of the public schools here in the Kanawha Valley have programs, and a lot of the Christian and other private schools have started to have them as well.”

In addition to the WVSCA, Greer noted, its sister organization – the West Virginia Chess Association (WVCA) – is open to adults, as well as children under 18. Currently, there are 10 regional clubs in the WVCA. 

“We do our best to communicate with coaches, parents, principals, and administrators about what’s going on,” Greer said, adding that both he and WVSCA Director Craig Timmons are always happy to assist interested schools and organizations with establishing clubs of their own. “Either one of us can get you pointed in the right direction. There are groups around the state that meet, usually on a weekly basis. People can show up and just play. Most of the adults are really generous with their time to teach the kids.”

“Chess,” Greer explained, “is a brain stimulation that is important as we get older, and it actually has a pretty good track record of helping kids problem solve so that they can do better in math and science.”

Those interested can contact Bob Greer via email at greerlaw@aol.com, or Craig Timmons at craigtimmons@gmail.com. Also on-hand for Saturday’s competition were tournament organizer and John Adams Middle School Chess Coach Scott Hamilton, and Assistant Tournament Directors Jim Sutherland and Ken Ross. 

Although young Nauva “Wayne” Perez has only been playing chess for about five months, his mother, Chastity, said that Saturday is the fifth tournament he has competed in, adding, “He’s gotten so good.” 

“It’s a family thing for us,” Chastity said. “It gives us time together at the table at dinner. It all started with my dad. He played chess, so he got us all into it.”

Chastity said she is pleased to see her son’s interest in the game grow as his skill level progresses, adding that they plan to continue competing throughout the summer

“We’ll be at the next one down in Harrison County,” Chastity said, referring to the Harrison County open and Scholastic at Simpson Elementary School on May 11. “I think the first tournament we went to, over 90 kids showed up. We went to the last one also – the state tournament. That was pretty cool.”

Tournament results – K-3 bracket top 5 finishers:

  1. Julian Schmidt
  2. Ryan Preston
  3. Nivan Adhikari
  4. Nuava “Wayne” Perez
  5. Amelia King

Also competing in the K-3 bracket were Luca King, Michael Falbo, Claire Hall, Natalie Ashcom, Rafey Shaik, Hannah O’Kelly, Everett Davis, Jayden Crow, and Tilly Price.

Tournament results – K-5 bracket top 5 finishers:

  1. Cash Griffith
  2. John Auville
  3. Oliver Fuller
  4. Henry Schaer
  5. Andrew Barker

Also competing in the K-5 bracket were Adam Baumwell, John Ward, Christopher Cole, Corbin Baumwell, and Abraham Price.

Tournament results – High School/Middle School Combined top 5 finishers:

  1. Nathaniel Des Ruisseau
  2. Tristan Johnston
  3. Aaron Ross
  4. Jacob Borah
  5. Gallagher Kelch

Although High Schools and Middle Schools were merged for play, the top five High School and Middle School players each received trophies, along with the top five players from both the K-3 and K-5 brackets.

Also competing in the High School/Middle School Combined bracket were Lance Pitrolo, Joel Fields, Donovan King, Ivan Barutov, Collin O’Conner, Kaleb Thomas, Nirvaan Samanta, Michael Eldridge, Shelby Gillispie, Jack Wagner, Luke McCallister, Matthew Orders, Duncan Bishop, Lisa Fields, Desmond Kidd, William Cooper, Iziah Kirk, and Anderson Crist. 

For more information, visit the West Virginia Scholastic Chess Association at wvsca.com, the West Virginia Chess Association at wvchess.org, or the United States Chess Federation at new.uschess.org

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