Our schools had another very strong showing at this year’s School Team Chess Championship, organized by the Calgary Junior Chess Club.
St. Jerome Elementary School won this year in a terrific tournament ending with 4 teams battling for 2nd place. This is a testament to the Tolentino family, as Patrick and Andre Tolentino anchored their team to wins in 2009 and 2010 while at St. Vincent de Paul Elementary/Junior High School, in addition to their win this year for St. Jerome.
Both the Chess Clubs at both these schools, and their teams, have been coached by their father, Angelo Tolentino. In the short time that the family has been at each school he developed a very strong program and a competitive chess club at both locations. This is their first championship win since they moved to St. Jerome School two years ago, but I am sure that they intend to repeat their performance next year and that they will be fiercely defending their title next spring.
It has been several exciting years for the Chess Club at Blessed Damien School, coached by one of the Grade Three teachers, Mr. Paul Gagne. The Chess Club was started with the assistance of an avid chess player and parent in the community, Mr. Jim Daniluk, who was involved for many years within the school community. In 2007 the Blessed Damien Chess team earned 5th place the first time they ever entered the annual Calgary School Team Chess Championship. In 2008, in a very close exciting tournament, Blessed Damien finished 1st and took home the Championship Trophy, repeating as City Champions in 2011with a name change to St. Damien, also winning 5th place in that section.
Last year the CJCC introduced a separate Novice Elementary section for students with little or no tournament experience and St. Damien won both 1st and 2nd place in that section. This made St. Damien the City Champions in both Elementary sections.
It was a very strong field at this year’s tournament, with 8 teams in the Open Section. In addition to St. Jerome taking 1st place, St. Damien Kings (with two boys in Grade 5 and a boy in Grade 3) placed in 2nd and St. Damien Queens (an all girl team, including students in Grades 6, 5 and 2) being tied for 2nd after 5 rounds but placing 5th after the tie-break determination. The other schools in this section were Earl Grey Elementary in 3rd, Webber Academy in 4th, Calgary Waldorf School in 6th, Bearspaw Academy in 7th and University Academy in 8th.
The Novice Elementary section had 10 Teams this year and was well-played by all the participants. Webber Academy managed to squeak into 1st place with the St. Damien Kings (2nd place) and St. Damien Bishops (3rd place) close behind. St. Damien Rooks placed 6th and the St. Damien (all in Grade 3!) placed 8th. Rounding out the field, another Team from Webber Academy took 4th place, Sacred Heart Academy from Strathmore had Teams in 5th and 7th, and Earl Grey had a Team tied for 8th and another in 10th place.
In the Jr. High section, Holy Cross Elementary/Junior High School came out in force with 3 Teams, Thanks to the recruitment efforts of teachers John Antenucci and Michael Miller. Westmount Charter School won 1st place with a Team anchored by a student who has been Provincial Grade level champion 4 years straight, with the Holy Cross Kings only 1 point behind in 2nd place, the Holy Cross Queens in 3rd place, and the Holy Cross Knights, earning 4th. I expect Holy Cross to build on this and have an even stronger Chess Club next year.
The High School Section was postponed to an undetermined later date because of a conflict with important SAT exams.
St. Jerome and St. Damien also had a great showing at this year’s Grade Level Championship. The two aforementioned boys from St. Jerome earned the trophy for 1st place in their respective grades (Gr. Four and Gr. Five). St. Damien also had an excellent tournament and earned the following: 1st place overall and the trophy for the Top Girl in Gr. One; 2nd, 4th and Top Girl in Gr. Two; In Grade Three, 1st place, 2nd place, 6th place, and Top Girl; 2nd place overall and Top Girl in Gr. Five; 3rd place, 4th place, and Top Girl in Gr. Six. With results like that, St. Damien can expect to have a very strong team for many years to come.
The students from these 3 Calgary Catholic schools were excellent ambassadors for our District and should be commended for their excellent results. As all 3 schools had many young players, I expect to see each of these schools return next year with an expanded team. I would like to see the number of schools from our District participating in next year’s tournament to at least double. If anyone is interested in starting a Chess Club at their school or improving an existing one, please contact Paul Gagne at email@example.com.