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Summer Endgame: Mateo Ruiz and the Esperanza Chess Team Finish Strong

Mateo Ruiz thinks it’s unique that so many students his age show up on Saturday mornings to play chess – and during the summer, no less. Mateo leads the Esperanza Academy Charter School chess team as its captain, and is one of the many high school and middle school students who traveled from across the city to compete in several MasterMinds Scholastic Summer Chess League tournaments during their summer break.

Mateo appreciates the committed competitors who dedicated part of their summers to playing chess. He himself is grateful for the chances he gets at each tournament to connect with other students and to grow as a player.

“Chess is a great opportunity for meeting new people and for learning to improve yourself using your mistakes,” Mateo said. “You notate your moves and analyze them afterwards. You can look back on what you did and see that there’s always space to improve.”

Esperanza Academy hosted the final MasterMinds summer tournament on Saturday, Sept. 9, and the students of the Esperanza chess team once again took the opportunity to prove that they are among the best young players in Philadelphia. The team took second place, with several individuals placing highly as well.

Ilian Jimenez placed fifth individually for the high school, while Mateo won three out of his four matches to take fourth, also earning distinction as Esperanza’s team MVP. Eighth grader Gabriel Vazquez led the new middle school chess team and Esperanza’s William Batista, a seventh grader, was named MVP for the Lenfest Center team.

The team looks forward to hosting the first tournament of the school year on National Chess Day (Oct. 14) at Esperanza, and expects upwards of 220 competitors to attend. Hopefully, the team’s school year season will end with a competition at the state or national level, as it did last year. Ultimately, their hard work embodies the Esperanza spirit. We wish the team further success, and will continue to share updates as they compete in Philadelphia and across the country.

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