Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 13, 2014
Former DISES chess player takes Blue Hill team to state championships
Blue Hill students win state chess championship
The winning K-6 Blue Hill Consolidated School chess team took home the championship in its first top state tournament, the Maine State Scholastic Chess Championships: (front row, from left) Kai Diel and Aidan Stearns; (back row, from left) Sam Parrott, Cole Stewart, Ross Stewart and Cameron Stewart.
by Anne Berleant
A former Deer Isle-Stonington chess player helped launch the recent victory by the Blue Hill Consolidated School at the state chess championships in Orono on March 8.
“It’s made me very proud. I take personal pride in the fact that they succeeded,” Coach Cameron Wendell, a Blue Hill Harbor School sophomore, said in a recent telephone call.
“He’s the coach. He’s definitely in charge,” faculty adviser Maryanne Lewandowski said of Wendell. “He told the kids they could do well. And they believed him.”
Wendell started as coach in December, using his experience as a former member of the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School team.
“For the most part, I took my personal instruction I got from the coaches I had through Deer Isle,” he said.
That included remembering what held his focus as a young chess player and what did not.
“Being in middle school and elementary school, kids don’t have the longest attention span for a low-key game like chess,” he said.
He attributes much of his coaching success to “the fact that I’m younger than most chess coaches. I can explain things on a level they understand.”
What helped to motivate the students, he said, was the presence of former members of the DISES team, Cameron, Ross and Cole Stewart, who transferred to BHCS this year.
“They were really inspired by what they saw from the kids from Deer Isle,” Wendell said. “They didn’t know how they lost to them. [The Stewarts] inspired the other kids by showing them chess is a real strategic battle.
“And a lot of it has to do with [the fact that] Blue Hill kids are very, very motivated.”
Around 30 students showed up for the first chess club meetings, which competed with a number of extra curricular choices, Wendell said.
“At that point, it was just a chess club. Whether or not it would become a team had not yet been decided by the school,” he added.
Wendell spoke with parents and Lewandowski, who secured a grant to fund the program, and in January, the club became a team. A few weeks later, their K-6 team won the state championship, beating defending champions Deer Isle-Stonington.
“I’m so thrilled and so proud of them,” Lewandowski said. “They worked very seriously and they worked very hard.”
The team is now trying to raise funds for a trip to the nationals in Atlanta, Georgia on April 25 to 27.
“We’re training as if we’re going to nationals,” Wendell said. “We’re assuming we’ll come up with the funds.”
Blue Hill students win state chess championship
By Dawn Stewart
ORONO—On Saturday, March 8, the Blue Hill Consolidated School took first place to become the Maine State Scholastic Chess Champions in the K-6 Championship division. BHCS, in its first year at the state’s top chess tournament for team play, entered three teams with 20 players from grades 4 to 8. Each team played four rounds.
The K-6 Championship Team took first place, after some heated matches, beating out longstanding defending champions from Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School. Sixth grader Cameron Stewart and his brother Ross Stewart, a fifth grader, each earned 3.5 points (out of 4). Sixth grader Sam Parrott and Cole Stewart, fifth grader (Ross’s twin), each had 3 points. Sixth grader Aidan Stearns and Kai Diel, fifth grader, each won 2 points. Sixth graders Grayson Eaton, Parker Allen, twins Duncan Howell and Ian Howell, and Evan Chapman, fifth grader, rounded out the winning team.
The K-6 Novice Team also did very well, taking fifth place in their first state tournament. Sixth grade players included Thomas Marsh with 3 points (out of 4) and Dawsen Astbury with 2 points. Fifth graders included Henry Scheff with 2.5 points and Calvin Nelson with 2 points.
The K-8 Junior High Championship team did not take home a trophy but put up a good fight at the more competitive higher grade level, garnering several long-fought wins against more experienced teams. Team members included eighth graders Alec Cole and Kara Morrison and seventh graders Matt Billings, Cooper Black and Sean Schweizer.
The K-6 Championship win is notable because the BHCS middle school has never had a chess team, forming only last fall. Organized in November as the “BHCS Chess Club,” it attracted over 30 students. In December, with the support of Principal Della Martin, sixth grade teacher Maryanne Lewandowski and funding from BEEM, a parent-run BHCS fundraising organization, the school hired Coach Cameron Wendell (see related story on page 1) and formed into a team for those students wishing to compete.
The BHCS team plans to represent Maine in the Junior High National Scholastic Chess Tournament held April 25 to 27, in Atlanta, Georgia. The school has planned a St. Patrick’s Day Fundraising Dinner at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 17, at the school, with Irish music and dance with performances by Bob McCormick, an Irish auction and a 50/50 raffle. All are welcome, with donations accepted at the door. Contributions can be made at DonorsChoose.org and to Blue Hill Consolidated School, 60 High Street, Blue Hill 04614. (Note “Chess Team” in memo.)