HARLINGEN — With one swift move, Michael Casas had his opponent “pinned.”

Casas, 10, had gone into attack mode with his bishop, moving it forward toward his opponent’s piece in a chess move called a pin.

His opponent, Izabel Vasquez, was unfazed. The Sam Houston fourth grader almost seemed to wear a poker face as she looked sternly at the bat-tlefield populated by chess pieces.

“I’m trying to make her bishop go over here,” said Michael, a fourth grader.

“I am trying to stop him from attacking my king,” said Izabel.

She and Michael are part of a 12-member team of chess players who are headed to the National Elementary (K-6) Champi-onship in Nashville, Ten-nessee, May 6 to 8. The tournament is organized by the United States Chess Federation.

Six students are going from Sam Houston Ele-mentary. Another six from Wilson Elementary will also make the trip with them.

Even as the students neared their departure date tomorrow for Nashville, they continued flexing their mental faculties with each move of the chess board. The ability to strategize impressed Christine Claudio, the sponsor from Sam Houston.

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Chess Team


Michael Casas, fourth grade

Izabel Vasquez, fourth grade

Sebastian Gonzalez, fourth grade

Diego Jimenez, fifth grade

Massimo Meneses, fourth grade

Alvaro Nieto, fourth grade


Christian Mata, third grade

Matthew Mata, first grade

Tristan Hernandez, third grade

Alexia Garcia Marroquin, third grade

Leeandra Gomez, second grade

Zachary Gonzalez Lamar, third grade