H-F’s chess team moving on to sectional competition

  The Homewood-Flossmoor High School chess team
  will be completing conference play Jan. 9 and moving
  to sectionals later that month. The team is coached
  by teacher Matt Bonges, kneeling left. Perry Hoag,
  kneeling fourth from left, recently set an H-F
  record for most points earned in Southwest
  Suburban Conference play.
(Photos by Marilyn 
  Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
 
The challenging game of chess has attracted a strong following at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.
 
The H-F team is tied for first place and is anxious to show it can win it all at the last conference match to be played Jan. 9. The team will go on to play in a sectionals match on Jan. 27 for the right to represent the Southwest Suburban Conference (SWSC) in state competition.
 
  H-F students Julian Garcia,
  left, and Dylan Lunceford
  practice with chess club
  teammates on Thursdays.

 
In chess, schools rank their players. H-F junior Perry Hoag has ranked first on the team for two years. That means he plays First Board position and pits his skills against other high school players also on First Board.
 
Perry set a new H-F Chess Team school record for most points amassed in SWSC play. He is in third place in the SWSC Blue Division with 7 wins, 0 losses and 4 draws.
 
  Henry Thiros, right, makes
  a move in play against Perry
  Hoag, H-F's No. 1 chess
  player. They have played
  chess together since they
  were 5 years old.

 
Generally schools have students on eight boards in meets. Joining Perry on the H-F team are Malcolm Smith, 2nd; Julian Garcia, 3rd; Henry Thiros, 4th; Xavier Branch, 5th; Eric Piros, 6th; Owen Kreis, 7th; Marquel Falagan, 8th. H-F physics teacher and chess coach Matt Bonges said he likes to mix the positions up.  
 
Players play to “checkmate” their opponent. They also may play against a clock set between 45 and 55 minutes.
 
Players match their wit and skills in chess as they try to protect their king. Checkmating means you’ve put your opponent’s king in a inescapable position. But to get there, you first have to work at surrounding the opponent’s king and protecting your own from attack.
 
The game dates from the Middle Ages. This explains the names of the pieces: king, queen, knights, bishops, rooks and pawns. Each piece starts from a designated space on the board and can only move in specific directions. 
 
Junior Henry Thiros, who plays Fourth Board, said chess is “very challenging.” He and Perry have been playing for 12 years. They learned the game at Western Avenue School in Flossmoor.
 
“There’s certain types of games with patterns, like if I move one way I know (the opponent) will move a certain way.” He finds memorizing those patterns is one way to prepare. 
 
As much as a player may strategize, mistakes happen. 

“You remember not to make those again,” Henry said.
 
Bonges said chess is a game for anyone, but he admits that many of the coaches in conference are math and science teachers. He has been playing for years, and one of his friends from college was an H-F chess team player.
 
For him, the game is about “the logical thinking and cause and effect. I make a move, what are they going to do in response.”  
 
Freshman Luis Camarena learned to play chess at an early age, but didn’t really pursue the finer points of the game until he came to H-F. He, like his teammate, Noah Ferguson, a sophomore, hope to improve so they can go on to represent H-F.
 
“I usually play against people who are better than me,” Noah said. “Playing people that are better than me helps me learn.”

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