By Executive Director Nancy Keller
There are many state scholastic competitions across Oregon this month but at one state competition in Myrtle Creek Oregon , there was very little movement from the players and the tournament room was virtually silent. Spectators watched with neutral faces, avoided eye contact with the players, and made sure to not display any enthusiasm. Players sat hunched in deep concentration for up to two hours in this five round, two day event.
It was the Oregon High School Chess Team State Championships. In the 51st annual championship of this longstanding academic sport, all OSAA classifications were allowed to compete against each other in one large group thus allowing an overall champion to be declared but still determining Class Champions. The large group resulted in the potential David and Goliath situation of a small school defeating the bigger schools and winning the Overall title.. This year, a 5A school, Crescent Valley , won the championship as they were completely undefeated for all five rounds although they had to defeat the 4A school, LaSalle, to do it.
LaSalle entered the final round having won all games except for a tie with Lake Oswego High School in their third round. In the final round, Yogi Saputra and Thomas Kneeland from Crescent Valley had beaten their opponents, Jeff Austin and Sean Richardson, on boards 1 and 5, while David Wen and Ian Dickson had succumbed to their opponents Austin Yeo and Alex Yeo on boards 2 and 4. It was a tie 2:2 with one board, board 3, still in play. Matt Dalthorp from Crescent Valley faced Tucker Price from LaSalle and their game was in the second hour looking like a potential tie. Then Matt Dalthorp made a decisive move in the very tight game, with Tucker Price facing defeat. Crescent Valley won 3:2 that round and became the 2014 Oregon Varsity Chess Team champions, in addition to 5A class champions.
For second place overall, Lincoln defeated Willamette 4:1. Lincoln had suffered only one loss, from the LaSalle team. Unfortunately, LaSalle’s pairings were against quite difficult teams and after the defeat from Crescent Valley, they had only 3.5 wins versus Lincolns four wins, thus LaSalle fell into third place with Lake Oswego overall.