The Esperanza Chess Team battled it out with Masterman beneath an Egyptian Sphinx in the Penn Museum of Archeology in the Philadelphia Scholastic Chess Finals last March 3. Facing a middle school team that had been playing since kindergarten and whose average rating is double ours, Esperanza fought hard on all seven boards.
We narrowly missed the win taking points on three out of the seven boards. De’Shawn McClary took an impressive win on board two beating an opponent rated over 600 points higher than him. Jose De La Cruz and Ilian Jimenez forced stalemates on their boards. Although Mateo Ruiz, Valentino Martinez, Raynel Lopez and Daiana Espindola took their matches into the end game and nearly ran out their clocks in what ended up being a two-hour battle, they could not pull out the win. Our consolation prize, however, is a tremendous second place trophy!
Coming from nothing three years ago and climbing to the number two rated team in all of Philadelphia has something to be said for it. This placement allows us a paid-for trip to the State Scholastic Championship next weekend and further, the Super Nationals in Nashville, TN in May.
The team was in high spirits despite the near miss at first. Laughing and making friends with their rivals, Esperanza proved once again why they are so popular in the Philadelphia chess league. As per usual, Mateo could be found shaking hands with all the coaches and chatting with the local news cameras. See Mateo’s Interview.
Ilian and De’Shawn spent their free time playing friendly games with other schools, and of course, there was a team singalong on the bus ride home. The only concern that showed on their faces was when they asked if I was proud of them. They said that it was the only thing that mattered.
I have never been so proud of a group of young adults in my life and the trophy doesn’t show half of what they are. As the ASAP media specialist who interviewed them last week and sought me out yesterday said: “Your kids are amazing. There are no small personalities there yet they are like a big family. They are all larger than life and taking turns being heard.”
Ms. Moshier, Esperanza Academy Charter School Instructor.