24732aOriginally Published The Nugget News April 12, 2016

On the morning of April 8, four Sisters MiddleSchool students prepared themselves to go head-to-head against the best middle-school-aged chess competitors in the state at this year’s Chess for Success state tournament.

Held annually, the competition is a friendly way for the students that excel at chess to meet and play games both as a team and individually. In winning first place in the regional tournament last January, the SMS Chess Club earned a spot at the state competition, where they competed as a team.

Eighth-graders Brody Lofdahl and Sasha Komar, alongside sixth-graders Ashton King and Matthew Falconer, comprised the team. The tournament played under Swiss rules, meaning that how well the team does cumulatively, not individually, determines whether they won or lost the round. As a team,Sisters had a rocky start but ended in a four-way tie for sixth place.

Twenty-six teams competed overall, but almost every increment had a tie of some kind due to the scoring and ranking system.

In addition, Brody Lofdahl and Ashton King proved themselves the best chess players in the region for their grade at regionals, leading them to qualify as individuals on top of the team participation. On Saturday, April 9, they competed on their own, this time scored on how they performed alone.

Overall, the SMS chess team had an excellent experience and every member learned valuable lessons about the game, whether they were chess veterans or first-time newbies. Lofdahl, the senior player, said the first game he played was “the best game I’ve played in my life.”

While none of the students had ever been to the state competition before, Falconer (who is the youngest on the team) performed admirably for a first-year participant in the chess club.

The Sisters Middle School chess club meets late-start Wednesday mornings and is coached by Ethan Ferwalt.