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The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

Self Study Success: Normal West Chess Team 7-1

Ryan Peck
The Normal West Chess Team is currently sitting with a 7-1 record and hopes to continue their success through the rest of this season.

The Normal Community West Chess Team has been working hard in their 2023-24 season thus far. The team is currently up 7-1, and expects more wins in their upcoming tournaments.

The team meets twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. However, their work and dedication to the team does not end after their group practices. Ryan Peck, a first-year coach, believes that self-study is a huge contributing factor to the team’s skill and success.

“There’s kind of a variety of students that come into the clubs. Some of them know what they’re doing off the bat and don’t require any help from me or don’t want any help from me. I kind of just let them play, see how they’re doing in the club and in the teams. Some students come in, and they’re just, they don’t have a fully fully grasp understanding of chess yet,” Peck states.

The varying levels of chess skill in the club allow for fluid practices. Students can work with Peck to learn new strategies and receive feedback from their game, or set up their own matches to test themselves and play for board positions.

Eric Gomez, a current junior at NCWHS, holds the first board position with a chess ranking of 1950. This places him just below the expert ranking.

“It’s a pretty diverse skill range,” Gomez states regarding the team.

Self-study allows for players to learn at their own pace and adapt to their own skill level. This can include reading chess theory, setting up matches against higher-ranked players, and reviewing mistakes in past games.

“We analyze previous games that were played in matches and just kind of go back to see your previous mistakes to understand what they were. And then once you go from there, you can kind of build on that,” Peck states.

Practices will continue to take place until the end of the season in February. The team is working towards the state competition, where they need 8 players to compete.

“We need eight players for Sectionals and the State team. We currently have six solid, so right now I’m making sure that we have that solid eight that are ready to play in January,” Peck states.

Last year, the team placed seventeenth out of two-hundred schools. Coach Peck hopes the team can compete well, despite this being his first year coaching. The previous coach, Garrett Scott, passed away in 2022.

“Coach Scott was such an incredible figure for the Normal West chess club. I couldn’t I couldn’t express in words how much he contributed to the team. But his knowledge, wisdom and excellence really played a part in getting them that far. I would be astounded if we could get even half as good as that,” Peck expresses.

The team will continue to study and work towards their next competition, which will be held in Bolingbrook, IL, with a date TBA, then return to NCWHS to prepare for Sectionals and State.

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