Team and individual efforts by the Mariners K-8 state champion chess teams netted national honors in San Diego, Calif., last week—two top-10 team finishes and a national individual third place win.
Playing at the National Junior High Chess Championship April 26-30, this year’s team was led by girls—three of them. Bethany Humphrey, an eighth grader, had five wins and a draw in seven matches to lead the Mariners. Individually, Humphrey was tied for sixth and received the eighth place trophy on tie-breaks, the first top-10 finish this year.
Next for DIS was sixth grader Orly Vaughn, who had four wins and a draw; Krisford Melanio, four wins; and Isaac Vaughn and SooZin Cha each with three wins. Their 17 points was half a point shy of tying the Orlando team’s record.
In the under 750 division, Deer Isle-Stonington got a second top-10 finish (the first time they have ever had two in the same year) with a ninth place ranking when all was said and done. Three more girls got it done for the Mariners. Eighth grader Alyssa Chesney led the way with four wins, followed by fifth grader Avery Reynolds with three wins, and Philomena Mattes and Ennis Marshall with two wins and a draw each. Mattes is in eighth grade while Marshall is a sixth grader. Also competing for DI-S were Tyson Rice, Cole Stewart and Colby Haskell, each with two wins, Cameron Stewart with a win and a draw, and Ross Stewart, who had a win in his first national event.
Playing as an individual, Cameron Wendell, an eighth grader, got four wins in the 1250 division because of his high rating. In fact, Wendell acted as a mentor to players on both DI-S teams besides his actual tournament play. Two of Cameron’s losses were to players who finished eighth and ninth in the division’s final ranking.
In the first event, the national bughouse championships, Cameron and Krisford Melanio emerged with three wins. Bughouse is a partners chess game where pieces taken are exchanged with their partners.
In the second event, blitz chess, where the players have only five minutes to make all their moves, Cameron totaled seven wins to tie for first place among 1100-and-under rated players. In the tiebreaker with two other chess players from Hawaii and California, Cameron was awarded the third place trophy, officially remaining among the top three players nationwide. It is the first time any Maine chess player has won a place in his division in the national championships.
Deer Isle-Stonington’s team has represented Maine in the national championships 19 of the last 20 years, during which the Mariners have won 31 Maine state scholastic team championships.
Nine years ago with a team led by the Ciomeis (Bryant and Collin) and the Eatons (Jon and Shane) the Deer Isle-Stonington Mariners went to Orlando, Fla., and came home with a fifth-place national finish. This year’s middle school chess team almost matched that historical high—without an Eaton or a Ciomei!
The players and coaches thank all the Island for its great support again this year, especially those who contributed to the fundraising effort to help send the teams to San Diego.