Chartiers Valley student excels in chess tournaments
One of Samuel Kagle’s favorite Christmas gifts as a child became one of his favorite pastimes as a high school student.
Kagle, a freshman at Chartiers Valley, received a “No Stress Chess” kit from his uncle in first grade. This basic game taught him the movement of pieces and how to play chess.
Four years later, he began taking weekly classes at the Bibliothèque de la Fayette Sud, taught by Eric Berthoud.
“Mr. Berthoud would teach strategy for half an hour and then we would play for half an hour,” Kagle said. “Every six weeks there was a tournament. library, I decided to try a ranked tournament.
He participated in a ranked tournament in January 2016 and placed fifth out of 21 entrants. This led to Kagle enrolling in the Pennsylvania State Game School Division last August, where he won the 45-Minute Game State Championship.
“I usually change my strategy during a match in response to my opponent’s moves,” Kagle said. “I try to keep my options open.”
After that first state championship, Kagle won two more, one for a 60-minute match and one for a 75-minute match, which he won last month in the 2017 State Chess Championship School Division. Game/75 at the University of Pittsburgh. .
Each state championship consists of four rounds of play using Swiss system pairing.
“The more you win, the tougher your opponents get,” Kagle said. “For each of my titles, I had to win all four games.”
The school division is for players in kindergarten through 12th grade. Players do not need to be residents of Pennsylvania; Kagle said he played against other teenagers from as far away as Jamaica.
“Sam is determined on his own,” said his mother, Martha. “He is very motivated. I encourage him to play because he likes to play and it’s good exercise for his mind. I will play with him from time to time, but it’s been a very long time since I beat him.
During the school year, Kagle plays chess once a month in Pitt with the Pittsburgh Chess League. He is also a member of the Southern Knights chess team which plays at the Bridgeville Library. Kagle takes lessons at the library of master Gabriel Petesch.
Away from chess, Kagle has represented Chartiers Valley in the Calcusolve math competition and won honors at the Scholastic Art Awards. For three consecutive years, he received an honorable mention for his performance in the Shakespeare Scene and Monologue Competition.
He starred in this month’s high school production of “Sweeney Todd” as Beadle Bamford.
“Sam was one of the earliest students I worked with,” said Sara Benis, the talented coordinator at Chartiers Valley Middle School. “Sam’s intellectual curiosity and passion for learning, along with his creative intelligence and critical thinking skills will lead him to achieve great things.”
Matthew Peaslee is a contributing writer for Tribune-Review.