Saturday, February 12, was the first over the board chess tournament for Coquille since the pandemic started. Two years ago, after multiple Coquille players qualified to play in the 2020 Chess for Success State Tournament, the tournament was canceled the day before it was to be held.
So once again, scholastic chess players competed in the 2022 Coos Curry Regional chess tournament to determine who will proceed to state this year with hope that the pandemic does not cancel a third year of the state championship.
Tournament director Nancy Keller feared that only Coquille players would be attending but was happy to see players from Bandon Harbor Light and Marshfield Junior High attend. It was a small group but there were intense games as players competed for their grade level.
Only one high school player is selected from each county and Dustin Herker beat out his fellow teammates Riley Jones, Sawyer Bergstedt and Frank Morse to win 2022 Coos Curry high school champion. Each game last nearly two hours in their section.
In the middle school section, Sebastion Newby from Marshfield Junior High was undefeated until the final round. However, he still scored four wins and was the clear overall champion of the section and is the 7th grade champion qualified to attend Chess for Success State Championship.
The eighth graders battled it out and ended in a three way tie for Shaleena Crawford, Erik Thrash and Jesus Villegas all scoring three wins and qualifying for the State Championships.
For sixth grade, Dane Herker was the lone entry but did get a win against the older middle schoolers and automatically qualified for the State Championships.
In the elementary section, Noah Ish-Shalom was undefeated and qualified for the K-3 individual championships. His little brother Ari Ish-Shalom only lost a single game which was to his older brother and beat out the older players and Chess for Success agreed to allow both brothers to represent Coos Curry in the K-3 category. No fourth grade players competed. For fifth grade, Christian Gallagher won his division.
The Chess for Success State Championships will be hold at the Portland Expo Center April 8 and 9.
Coquille was able to field both an elementary team and middle school team so will be competing in the state team divisions. Chess for Success does not have a high school team division but the Coquille High School team will be competing in the Oregon High School Chess Team state Championships March 4 and 5.