Archive for Saturday, March 20, 1999


March 20, 1999


Quail Run School boasted the first-place individual medalist and first-place team in state chess competition last weekend, while Southwest Junior High boasted the first-place individual medalist and the third-place team.

It was a sudden death match.

Win and the team takes first. Lose and the team loses a chance to go to the national chess competition.

"I was just thinking about the game," said Quail Run fourth-grader Deepyaman Datta.

Fortunately, when it came time for the checkmate, Deepyaman found himself in a winning position. He took top honors in the state elementary chess championship held at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park last weekend and, in doing so, helped the Quail Run team to the championship by half a point over the nearest competitor.

"We've created a chess dynasty here at Quail Run," counselor and chess coach Harold Nelson said. "We've taken first place at every tournament we've been to this year, and every child has medaled.''

It's quite an accomplishment considering that Nelson has more than 40 students in the club.

"It's a matter of imprinting," Nelson said. "We write all the moves down."

Deepyaman wasn't alone in his strategies. Finishing right behind him in state competition was his classmate, fourth-grader Benjy Greenberg.

"I wait for the other person to make a mistake," Benjy said, when asked about the secret to his success. "I see what I can do. If I can't do anything, I see what's closest to good and do that."

Winning the state championship is one thing, but Nelson hopes to raise enough money to take the team in May to the national championship in Phoenix.

"I have to take them," he said. "They've worked so hard."

The elementary students aren't the only local students with extensive chess talent. The chess team at Southwest Junior High attended the state tournament for junior high and middle school competitors at Blue Valley Northwest.

It took four matches in a "blitz off" at the state chess tournament before SWJH eighth grader Dylan McClain was declared the winner, becoming the first junior high student from Lawrence to claim a state chess championship.

McClain boosted his other Southwest teammates to a third-place team showing at the tournament. Eighth-grader Doug Raney took third place.

Chess coach Kelly Barker, who is also a seventh-grade geography teacher at the school, said he plans to take about eight students to the national chess tournament May 6-9 in Columbus, Ohio.

Eudora High School senior Michael Van Deelan II won the high school chess championship. He will compete in the Dinker Chess Tournament in Reno, Nev. in August.

--JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is

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