Windermere High Chess Club earns first in OCPS competition

The tournament was held April 29 at SunRidge Middle School with hundreds of students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Windermere High Chess Club outplayed the other high schools to become champions of the OCPS chess tournament.
The Windermere High Chess Club outplayed the other high schools to become champions of the OCPS chess tournament.
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Hundreds of students played their best chess Saturday, April 29, for the chance to come out on top in this game of strategy. At the end of the Orange County Public Schools chess tournament, held at SunRidge Middle School, the club from Windermere High School was the top team.

The club sponsor is Christian Voltzke. On the tournament roster were club president Jayden Mathura, John Piza, Aaron Gomez, Gabriel Rugeles, Brandon Nova, Brenda Nova, Laiba Rafi, Aarav Joshi, Ethan Parekattil, Grant Stace and Victor Valvassori De Jesus Silva.

Mathura said Rugeles and Brandon Nova were the decisive players and were pivotal to the team’s success. He also recognized Piza and Gomez for their excellent playing skills and for holding the best records on the team.

“They just played such great chess and elevated us to be in first place,” Mathura said. “Along with everyone else, we played great chess. … We all played the best chess there.”

Teams of 10 played six rounds each.

“It was a grueling nine hours,” Mathura said.

“The kids who participated have been a dedicated group who meet once a week to play and challenge one another,” Voltzke said. “They are extremely competitive, and that was evident on Saturday with the first-place district placement.”

The Windermere High Chess Club meets from 1:10 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays in Room 6210, and newcomers are welcome to join the players. About 20 students attend the weekly meetings. For information, students also can check out the club’s Instagram account: whs_chessclub.

“We try to get as many people as possible to play chess,” Mathura said. “We come in and set up boards … and show people how good chess is for the mind. We try to promote how chess improves the brain, and we try to get people to come and learn.

“It’s a very nice environment,” he said. “Most of my friends now are through the club, so I really enjoyed the good environment we’ve been able to foster. And (we) make sure the introduction to chess is nice and warm.”

“Queen’s Gambit” was a popular miniseries in 2020, and Mathura said the chess playing was realistic.

“The way it depicted chess was very well,” he said. “With chess, you have to put in the work. People misconstrue that if you play chess you’re automatically gifted, but if you put in the work, you can be good.”

Mathura has been playing since he was 7. He learned it by watching his father, Devan, and his brother, Evan, play.

Mathura tutors students in ninth grade and younger, and he can be reached at [email protected].

“I just want the community to see that chess is involved in this community and they shouldn’t have to be afraid or restrained in their interest in chess,” he said. “It’s open for them to learn more about.”


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