LCPS students compete in local chess tournaments

LAS CRUCES – The Las Cruces public school chess tournament attracted around 75 players across the district, but that was just the start of chess in Las Cruces.

Students worked with volunteer coaches to hone their skills as chess began to gain popularity in the district.

Camino Real Middle hosted the tournament on November 19, welcoming students from several LCPS schools including Mesa Middle, Monte Vista Elementary, Sonoma Elementary, Highland Elementary, Loma Heights Elementary, Mesilla Valley Leadership Academy, Zia Middle, Vista Middle, Arrowhead Park Early College High, Organ Mountain High, and Las Cruces High.

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The chess tournament was divided into three divisions, Elementary K-5, Middle School 6-8 and High School 9-12. In each division there were awards from 1st to 3rd for individual players and from 1st to 3rd for each team. The results of the Chess Tournament at Camino Real Middle School are as follows:

Manny Castillo, an elementary school chess champion plays chess with Sun-News writer Algernon D'Ammassa in the Sun-News newsroom on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

Individual Elementary

  • 1st Manuel Castillo
  • 2nd (tied, 2nd overall) Ilijah Horcasitas
  • 2nd (tied, 3rd overall) Ezekiel Laos
  • 2nd (tied, 4th overall) Larry Crotts III
  • 2nd (tied, 5th overall) Benjamin Geiger

Elementary Team

  • 1st Monte Vista (directed by Manny Castillo)
  • 2nd Highland Primary
  • 3rd Mac Arthur Primary

College team

  • 1st Camino Real Varsity
  • 2nd Vista College
  • 3rd Camino Real Junior Varsity

High School Team

  • Arrowhead Park 1st High School
  • 2nd High Varsity Mountain Organ
  • 3rd Mountain High Junior Varsity organ

What’s next for chess at Las Cruces?

Chess became a New Mexico Activities Association sanctioned activity in 2015, with the help of William Barela, a high school coach at Arrowhead Park Early College and an accomplished chess player in Doña Ana County. .

LCPS said Barela was instrumental in connecting community support from local sponsors for chess tournaments, securing a place to practice and providing meals for students participating in chess. after school and on Sundays.

“Everyone is always invited,” Barela said. “There is so much more room to grow, even if we find a school that has one or two players, we will always make room for everyone to play.”

Since it became sanctioned by the NMAA, the game of chess has grown in popularity with more and more district students joining at different grade levels.

This year the game has caught the interest of younger students like Manuel (Manny) Castillo, a 5th grade student at Monte Vista Elementary School who has been dubbed the 2021 Elementary School Chess Champion of the New Mexico.

The work of nearly 20 LCPS volunteers and coaches has brought local sport to the fore in schools.

Volunteer Manuel Castillo is the chess coach for Highland Elementary Schools, Sonoma, Mesa Middle School and Monte Vista. He also runs after-school programs at the Southern New Mexico Chess Academy. In recent years, Castillo has recorded the highest turnout for chess players from different schools.

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Rose Vicario and Jesse Vick are volunteers who have made it possible for Zia Middle School to attend chess tournaments. Joshua Wisner coaches students at Vista Middle School. Deborah Soffera is Camino Real’s chess coach. Michael Soffera runs the Organ Mountain High School Chess Club.

“I am excited about the progress our city has made with the support of these wonderful teachers, volunteers and coaches who have helped students develop their skills and love of chess,” said Michael Soffera. “Without these coaches, students would not have a place to learn such a beautiful game that develops critical thinking, logic, attention to detail, problem-solving skills, focus, discipline and most of all. , the collaboration. The players and coaches have worked together to help develop a strong chess culture in southern New Mexico and we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor.

All students interested in chess are welcome to play. The club is currently looking for sponsors for the next chess tournaments. Students often practice during lunch if they wish and after school. With the help of LCPS volunteers, students are invited to meet on Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Corner Bakery on Lohman Avenue to practice. Meals are provided.

On December 17 at 1:30 p.m., Organ Mountain High School will host an individual chess tournament.

E-mail [email protected] for information.

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