by Chad Lykins, Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation
Nearly two hundred students spent the first day of spring break in an elementary school cafeteria. The opportunity to play in Oregon’s first rated K12 team chess championship was so enticing that they put their vacations on hold for one more day.
While a different statewide team tournament is held annually in the Oregon Convention Center, it is run without the benefit of an accepted chess rating system. The old tournament also has an idiosyncratic qualification process not found in any other state team championship in the United States. These factors led the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation to organize a new event that can be held in the same esteem as team championships throughout the country.
The Inaugural OSCF K12 Team Championship had three school divisions (K5, K8, and K12) and a Mixed Division for teams made up of students from different schools. Awards for the event were sponsored by Chess.com and ChessKid.com, who collectively have over 30 million members worldwide. Scholarships were given to schools that served low-income students.
Catlin Gabel won the K12 Division with a perfect score. Clackamas High School and Corvallis High School took home trophies for second and third place. National Master Joshua Grabinsky, a tenth-grader from Coquille, led a strong team that won the Mixed Division.
Stoller Middle School won all of its rounds to take first place in the K8 Division. Winterhaven defeated second-seed Robert Gray Middle School in Round 3 to take second place. Robert Gray finished third.
The biggest surprises of the day came in the K5 Division, where Hayhurst Elementary School battled Jacob Wismer Elementary to a draw despite having an average board rating nearly 300 points lower. Both schools finished with scores of 4.5/5, resulting in them sharing first place and the title of Co-Champions. Second place then went to Hayhurst’s B team, which pulled an upset of its own against an impressive team from Lent Elementary, who took third.
The next challenge facing this new state championship is finding a venue for next year. The organizers are currently soliciting proposals from schools interested in hosting the event in 2020, where attendance is expected to exceed 300 students.
To learn more about hosting next year’s OSCF Team State Championship, write to OSCF@OSCF.ORG.