Andreas Plug of Hamburg, West Germany, picked the right year to study at Lawrence High School.
That's because Plug is a chess enthusiast, and, much to his convenience, this year's National High School Chess Championship is being held in Kansas City. He'll be there today through Sunday to compete in the tournament, and his performance in competitions earlier this year indicate that he could fare well.
PLUG, 18, went undefeated in February's U.S. Amateur Team Championship in St. Louis. And at the Christmas Tree Open in Kansas City at the beginning of this year, Plug took second. That sounds more impressive when one considers that his only successful challenger was Michael Brooks, a professional chess player.
Steve Storkel, coach of the LHS chess club, said another indication that Plug could do well this weekend was his No. 1 ranking by tournament officials from among 1,300 students entered in the competition.
Storkel said Plug probably ranked as one of the top three chess players in the United States who are 18 years or younger. He also probably ranks in the top 500 of all players in the country, professional or amateur, Storkel said.
MEANWHILE, Plug appears to be taking all of this in his stride.
"It's just a game. I just play it for fun," he said.
Plug said he'd been playing chess since he was about 4 years old, which is not uncommon for children in West Germany. He said the more active chess clubs in Germany also allowed him more time to practice, 15-20 hours a week there compared to 2-3 hours a week here.
Despite the fact that he's been relatively lazy about his game, Plug said he was confident he could do quite well this weekend. A tournament victory would give the LHS senior plenty to boast about when he goes back home this summer.
Gerald Denning, sponsor of the LHS chess club, said, "People who are hungry for trophies at Lawrence High School are probably lamenting that he didn't come here as a sophomore and stay for three years."