Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Check Mates

Posted 12/01/2016 by Baxter Stein

The chess team fights East on their own turf, building strategy and learning new skills. photo by Baxter Stein

TJ’s chess team kicks off its season in the Denver Chess League.

TJ’s chess club, sponsored by GT advisor Brian Weaver, is one of six teams that make up the Denver Chess League. Spartan chess players meet in math teacher Nick Pratarelli’s classroom on Thursday afternoons, playing chess along with other board games. Some come for casual fun, some come for fierce competition, but everyone is accepted and encouraged to participate.

The six teams that make up the Denver Chess League are East, TJ, Ridge View, Manual, Compassion Road, and Lakewood. Weaver is the sponsor for chess teams all across the city, and he helps to keep the league running. He chose chess as a valuable resource to the kids in the GT program, and he encourages everyone to participate in TJ’s chess club. Weaver explained, “Chess exercises really all the executive functions of the brain. So that includes things like response inhibition, planning ahead, organization, [and] emotional control, and these are all things that are really important for not only extra smart high school kids, but all high school kids.” Because of Weaver’s sponsorship, the chess club is tied to the GT program and to many intellectual individuals at TJ.

Chess meets in the Denver Chess League are played as single game matches, with the team who possesses the most wins overall winning the meet. TJ’s chess team played at East High School on November 10th, competing for their first win against East’s talented team. Unfortunately, TJ’s team was a little short handed and lost to East by two games. Despite this, both teams learned from each other; they stayed after their official matches to talk about strategy, mistakes they made, and how to improve their play. “East took the victory, but that could largely be because it was their home battleground and TJ needed greater representation by way of numbers of players,” Weaver commented. Despite the team’s close loss, they are ready to defeat Lakewood in the next meet on December 8th.

Outside of competition, TJ’s chess club gathers on Thursdays after school. Students practice chess for competition, but they also gather to play boardgames they bring from home. This year, members of the club have played an assortment of board games, including 7 Wonders, Forbidden Desert, and Marvel’s Legendary. Whether students are competitive about their intellect, or just looking for a relaxed group to play games with, the chess club is a fantastic option.