El Caporal Mason Team of the Week

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Mason Chess Team

This week’s El Caporal Mason Team of the Week is the Comet Chess Team.
Mason High School Chess Team Captures 4th Consecutive Greater Miami Conference Title

It’s unusual to hear the words “Chess” and “Exciting” used in the same sentence, but there was definitely some exciting chess competition taking place at Sycamore High School this past Monday.  Sycamore has been designated by the league as the host of the second round of Greater Miami Conference chess competition.  On Monday, December 2nd, there were 70 students from 10 GMC schools sitting at tables in the auxiliary gymnasium competing at chess.  The second round of competition consists of 5 games against different league opponents based on the results of round 1.  Round 1 of GMC chess competition is a true round-robin with 9 matches, one each against the other 9 schools in the league.  The second round is a “bubble” pairing system where any team can face any other team, but the top-seeded teams face more difficult opponents.  As the #1 seed entering the second round, Mason ended up playing the teams that finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th in the league.

Three teams – Lakota West, Sycamore, and Mason – had entered round 2 with identical 8-1 records in a tie for first.  Those teams had gone 1-1 against each other in the first round, with Mason losing to Sycamore and defeating Lakota West, while Lakota West was able to defeat Sycamore.  The 5 matches from round 2 are added to the record from round one to determine a champion based on 14 matches.  It was guaranteed that those 3 teams would all face off against each other on the day of round 2 unless one of them lost to someone else.  In the second match of the day, Sycamore defeated Lakota West 3-2.  In the 3rd match of the day, Mason defeated Sycamore 3.5-1.5.  A win by Mason in round 4 over Lakota West would give Mason an outright GMC title.  A win by Lakota West in round 4 would result in the first-ever 3-way shared GMC Chess Championship among Sycamore, Lakota West and Mason. 

A 34-minute delay for a fire alarm at Sycamore High School had caused the tournament to run even longer than usual, so it was after 3:00 pm when match 4 of the day, featuring Lakota West vs. Mason, was nearing an end.  Mason had won boards 1 and 5, and Lakota West had won boards 2 & 3, leaving the match to be decided by the longest-running game on board 4.  Sophomore Constantin Stanescu-Bellu was playing board 4 for Mason, and he had not lost all day.  The game between him and his opponent from Lakota West was running exceptionally long, so there were almost 40 people – coaches and players – standing nearby and silently watching the game (as is etiquette in chess).  Lakota West had a huge time advantage on Mason’s player.  In fact, any move that took 6 seconds for Constantin to make was going to result in a loss for Mason because Constantin only had one second remaining on his clock.

There is a 5-second delay on each move before a player’s cumulative time begins to run off, but making nearly 40 moves to finish off the game – without ever taking more than 5 seconds to think about a move – is incredibly difficult.  Finally, Constantin caught his player in an illegal move, claimed his additional two minutes added to the clock, and won the game with a little more ease.  Constantin had made at least a dozen moves with only the single second remaining on his clock.  Mason’s 8th GMC Chess Championship in the past 9 years was literally secured by only a single second!

Senior Brian Suganraj went 5-0 on the day at first board and finished his playing career at Mason with a competition record of 46-0-1, setting a new conference record for all-time wins without a loss.  He surpassed a record previously owned by Doug Dysart who graduated from Sycamore in 1995 with a record of 44-0-3.  Brian was named the Player of the Year in the conference by a unanimous vote of the coaches.  Sophomore Ruthvik Ayyagari went 4-1 on Monday and finished the season 13-1 at board 2, and he was named 1st-team all-GMC.  Senior Kalpak Duddella went 2-2-1 in round 2 and finished the season 7-4-1 on board 3 and was named 2nd-team all-GMC in the voting by the coaches.  Constantin Stanescu-Bellu finished the day 4-0-1 and 8-0-1 on the year playing 4th board and was also named 2nd-team all-GMC.  Freshman Kushal Kothapalli went 4-0-1 on Monday and finished the season 7-1-1 at 5th board.  It took a few matches for both Constantin and Kushal to play their way into the lineup, but they each finished strong by having an undefeated day in round 2.  Playing on the extra boards on Monday, junior Rithvik Kilaparthi went 5-0 onboard #6, and Senior Dennis Kruglov went 5-0 on board #7.  Since all players must play the same board all day at GMC round 2, there is a plaque given for those with the best record on the day.  Mason won the plaques for the best record on the day on board #1 (Brian); board #4 (Constantin); board #5 (Kushal – who won a 5-minute blitz-game playoff for the plaque against his Sycamore opponent); board #6 (Rithvik); and board #7 (Dennis).

Records for all the teams in the conference – as well as results of team matches from December 2nd – can be found at www.gmcsports.com by clicking on Winter Sports and then Chess.  Mason earned 11 points toward the GMC All-Sports trophy by capturing the first winter sports championship of 2019-20.  The MHS Chess Team will be on an extended break after the conclusion of GMC Competition, but the team is currently planning another trip to the National High School Chess Championships scheduled for April 3-5, 2020, in Columbus Ohio.  Finishing in the top 20 nationally is the team’s goal after just missing out (22nd) the last time the team represented Mason High School on the national level.
Article recap submitted by Lori Fox-Allen, Student Activities Director

The Comets are coached by Keith Brackenridge.  See roster below: 

Mason Athletics would like to extend their sincere thanks to the owners and staff of El Caporal for their support of Comet Athletes!  El Caporal offers the finest quality authentic Mexican cuisine available in our area. Their first-class service, superior food selection, and affordable prices are well known by their customers. If you have not experienced the El Caporal difference, come enjoy some of the finest Mexican food in the Greater Cincinnati Area.   (513) 336-7947 .  LOCATED AT  6011 TYLERSVILLE ROAD IN MASON, OHIO NOW OPEN IN LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, OHIO ON CINCINNATI-DAYTON ROAD!

Published by Dan Hilen, Mason Sports Information Director

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