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3/19/2014 2:00:00 PM
Medomak Valley Wins Maine State Scholastic Chess Championship

By Paula Roberts

Medomak Valley High School's chess team won the Maine State Scholastic Reserve Chess championship, in their first year of competition, on March 8 at the University of Maine Orono. Medomak Middle School's chess team tied for third in the Jr. High division out of 12 teams.

Medomak Valley High School won the 2014 Maine State Scholastic Reserve Chess Championship in their first year as a team. Team members include Greg Wadsworth, Coach Jim Du Bois, Grant Bodine, Joseph Powell, Patrick White, and team administrator Bill McLellan.
Medomak Valley High School won the 2014 Maine State Scholastic Reserve Chess Championship in their first year as a team. Team members include Greg Wadsworth, Coach Jim Du Bois, Grant Bodine, Joseph Powell, Patrick White, and team administrator Bill McLellan.
 
The teams are coached by Jim DuBois, of Damariscotta, who is personally ranked among the top 20 players in Maine.

The Reserve section is a little weaker than the championship section, DuBois said. "We were right where we belonged," DuBois said. "This was my second year coaching. We don't have the strength yet. We don't have the playing skills yet (to compete at the championship level). It was a good learning experience for them."

Medomak Valley sophomore Joseph Powell was the top seed going into the tournament, and won all four of his matches. Besides the team trophy, Powell was presented an individual trophy for the top player of the tournament.

The tournament started at 9 a.m., and Powell was the last one standing, finishing his final match after 7 p.m. Powell is ranked in the top 100 in Maine among active chess players of all ages. He has a United States Chess Federation rating of 1150 after two years of competing. A masters level is 2000 and an expert is 2200.

"He is half way there after just two years," team administrator Bill McLellan said.

"He took on all four challengers and dispatched them all," McLellan said. "Of particular distinction was his last match. He had been playing chess for about eight hours when his final match came up. For the team to win the high school reserve match, Joseph needed to win for the team.

"He sat down across from his opponent from the Maine School of Science and Math. The player was doing everything she could to distract Joseph, including playing with erasers, balancing erasers and pencils on her head. Joseph got up by one piece and knew he was in a strong position.

"He utilized his clock while his opponent offered him a draw on at least four occasions. Joseph refused, as a draw would have lost the tournament for the team. It came down to the final minutes and Joseph calmly moved his pieces to close out all prospects of his opponent to win, stalemate or draw. Joseph was undeterred.

"He prevailed and won the match for the team at about 7:30 p.m. after ten and one half hours of chess."

One team point is awarded for every individual win, a half point for each draw, and no points for a loss. A match is decided a draw when one player ask the other if they want a draw. The second player can accept or deny the draw.

Matches are timed 60 minutes per player, with a five second delay given after a player hits their opponent's clock. "You lose if time runs out on you," McLellan said.

Players are rated based on the Swiss System. During the state tournament, when a player wins a match, he moves up and plays a more advanced player, and when he loses he plays a less advanced player, McLellan said.

Medomak Valley won with 8.5 team points, with Powell collecting four points, Greg Wadsworth three (two wins, two draws), and Patrick White 1.5. Also competing on the high school team was Grant Bodine.

Cape Elizabeth was second with eight points, and MSSM and Van Buren tied for third with 7.5 points.

"Joe (Powell) has made a lot of improvements. He had to win his last match (for a team win). He won his last match by having an overwhelming material advantage (checkmate), and he had less than two minutes left," DuBois said.

"Greg Wadsworth is vastly improved. I'm very proud of their performances. If we have another couple of kids join and improve, we'll have the makings to win a championship series," DuBois said.

Medomak Middle School chess player Noah Munn makes a move during the state tournament at UMO.
Medomak Middle School chess player Noah Munn makes a move during the state tournament at UMO.
 
Orono won the Jr. High division with 16 points, followed by DIS 13.5, Medomak Middle School 10.5 and Breakwater 10.5.

"That was closer than it sounds," DuBois said. "They need a little maturity. They need a couple of years. A lot of it is just handling themselves in a tournament situation."

Competing on the Middle School team were Caleb Pendleton (2 wins, 2 losses), Noah Munn (3 wins, 1 loss), Osage Crie (2 wins, 2 losses) and Drew Bubar (1 win, 1 draw, 2 losses).

DuBois said one of the team's goals was for every player to receive a USCF rating. Medomak players had to compete in two dozen USCF certified games in order for players to achieve a rating. They competed in 10 tournaments including scholastic tournaments in Bangor and Medomak, a mixed aged tournament in Damariscotta and a primarily adult tournament in Saco to achieve their ratings.

"Everything is based on ratings. You have to play above your rating, not below," DuBois said.

Medomak started a club chess team in 2008, headed up by McLellan. The teams practice twice a week for two to five hours. "Chess is a great game. It helps the kids who are otherwise not involved in sports," participate in a team activity, McLellan said.

Medomak applied for and received a $2500 grant from the Maine Community Foundation which they used to purchase equipment, t-shirts, books, help fund coaches, and was largely used to fund bus transportation.
Medomak Middle School chess team took second place at the Maine State Scholastic Chess Tournament. Team members are Noah Munn, Osage Crie, Jakob McPhee, and Drew Bubar, and are coached by Jim DuBois with team administrator Bill McClellan.
Medomak Middle School chess team took second place at the Maine State Scholastic Chess Tournament. Team members are Noah Munn, Osage Crie, Jakob McPhee, and Drew Bubar, and are coached by Jim DuBois with team administrator Bill McClellan.
 




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