The Crown

Checkmate

Mae Novakoski, Crown Writer

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What is a queen’s gambit? A.) Something the queen wears. B.) A song by Queen. C.) A chess move. To find the right answer, just ask John Blais (12). John has been a chess player for as long as he can remember. He first started playing the game when we was taught by his father.

In fact, what inspired John to broaden his knowledge of chess and to stick with the game was his dad. Learning as a child with his dad will forever be the inspiration that keeps him going; it was this inspiration that lead him to the Marian Central Chess team.

For Blais, the opportunity and ability to play chess was the highlight of his four years at Marian. Chess is a very cerebral game.  Picking a favorite part about chess, however, is not that simple; it could be a player’s favorite move or simply the thrill of playing the game. Blais offered one of his favorite memories, “The best part about playing chess is how every game is different. You never know what to expect when you play a game of chess.” Alongside having a favorite part of chess, there are also numerous difficult things about the game. According to Blais, “The hardest part about chess is the complexity of the game. You can study chess for years, and there will always be something more to learn.” With all the knowledge of chess Blais gained over the years, he was able to put it into action as he played for the Marian Central Chess team.

Being a part of any type of organization in high school can have a huge impact on someone. Aside from being able to participate in something they love, they have the opportunity to meet people that will become their best friends for a lifetime. Over the years of participating in a sport or club, every member can look back on all their years to recall the best match that they have ever had. John spoke about his best match and said, “My best match was against Cary Grove at the Sectionals tournament. We pretty much expected to get swept by them. I played the game of my life against a very strong opponent, and our team defeated Cary Grove to qualify for State.” The skills of the each player are a reflection of what they have been taught.  As they say, behind every great player is an amazing coach. Having a coach that is truly invested in their team and doing their best to make them flourish as players is extremely crucial. “I couldn’t have asked for a better coach than Mr. Widzisz. He and Coach Miller really kept us motivated and helped us improve our playing,” said Blais. With the leadership of Mr. Widzisz, John and the rest of the team were able to lead a successful season and eventually find themselves at State.

This past season, the chess team was blessed to be upgraded from a club to a sport. What this meant was that John and the members of the chess team now had to opportunity to play the sport they love against other schools throughout the county. So, blessed with the opportunity, John and all the boys on the team were able to increase their skills by playing new and more skilled opponents. In addition, the 2017-2018 Marian Central Chess team’s voice was truly heard when they qualified for the State championship. Blais said, “My favorite memory was the State tournament in Peoria and the time I got to spend with my teammates.” Having the once in a lifetime opportunity to be in the State championship, no matter the outcome,is a memory that will never be forgotten. “Getting the chance to play and discuss chess with players from all across the state was a really cool experience, and I definitely learned a lot from it,” said John.

Being one the few people to be able to say that they went to State in high school is truly a noteworthy experience to have. To continue his love for the game of chess, John plans to be active in a chess club in college and continue playing throughout his adult life. For all the curious readers, a gambit is also John’s favorite opening move, C.

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