Members of San Benito High School brought home the state chess championship title for the second time.
Team members recently competed at the 2013 Texas State Chess Tournament, held in McAllen, and advanced to National Chess Championships in Nashville, Tenn.
For San Benito High School senior Simon Vasquez III, “checkmate” has been part of his vocabulary since his early elementary school years.
Vasquez began playing chess as a first grader and has earned many titles, including being named Region VIII Middle School champion in both 2008 and 2009. In 2010 and 2012, he earned Region VIII High School champion and co-champion honors, and on both occasions was awarded a scholarship for the University of Texas at Brownsville.
In 2013, he was named Texas State Chess co-champion and as a sophomore, he earned the Annual Texas Grades 10th Grade Champion title.
Vasquez has been working to improve his skills year after year. “I’ve disciplined myself and pushed myself,” he said.
Although Vasquez is competitive, he doesn’t hesitate to help his San Benito teammates.
“I just try to help them out as much as I can,” he said.
Vasquez and members of his team placed first at the Texas State High School Championship Division, earning the Two-Time Texas State Chess Champion title and qualifying for the National Chess Championships in Nashville, where they placed 14th.
Two middle school teams from Berta Cabaza Middle School and Miller Jordan Middle School also earned honors after competing in the Texas State Middle School Championship Division, with Miller Jordan Middle School earning second and Berta Cabaza Middle School earning third. At nationals, Berta Cabaza placed 13th, while Miller Jordan placed 15th in the Middle School Championship Division.
Miller Jordan Middle School also placed 17th in the Middle School Under 1,000 Division at nationals.
The accolades are not limited to secondary level students. This year, two elementary schools came home with state wins that helped them advance to nationals.
At the state tournament, Dr. C.M. Cash Elementary School tied for second after competing in the Texas State Elementary Championship Division and earned fifth in the Texas State Primary Championship Division.
At nationals, Dr. C.M. Cash Elementary School tied for 25th in the Elementary Championship Division and in the Primary Championship Division, the team placed 18th.
Ed Downs Elementary School reached ninth place in the Texas State Elementary Championship Division and eighth in the Texas State Primary Championship Division at the state competition.
At nationals, the team placed 17th in the Primary Under 800 Division, 25th place in the Elementary Under 900 Division and 44th in the Elementary Championship Division.
For additional information about the district’s chess programs, please contact the district’s Afterschool Program Director Jack Garcia at 956-361-6450.