SBCISD chess teams headed to nationals for 15th consecutive year

Courtesy photo


San Benito CISD chess teams came, saw, and conquered at the 2020 Texas Chess Association (TCA) Region VIII Chess Tournament held early February at San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy.

The TCA Region VIII chess region is comprised of the following school districts: Rio Hondo, Harlingen, San Benito, South Texas, La Feria, Los Fresnos, Brownsville, South Texas Academy for Medical Professions, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Math and Science Academy as well as private and charter educational entities in the Cameron County area.

During the tournament, approximately 1,300 chess players competed for a coveted spot at the state and national chess tournaments.

With determination, grit, and teamwork, players competed in round after round, game after game, giving their all during the competition. Through their hard work and skillful strategizing, two San Benito CISD teams – Berta Cabaza Middle School and Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. STEAM Academy – earned spots at the national championships.

The Berta Cabaza Middle School chess team placed second in the 2020 Regional Middle School Championship.  Players included Noah Aguilar, Cruz M. Guzman, Aaron D. Rostro, and Adam X. Gonzalez.  Their teammates are Ricky Salazar, Emiliano Zapata, James Cowan, Josue M. Nuñez, Jose X. Nuñez, Mario Mora, and Isaac R. Saenz.

Students on the team representing Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. STEAM Academy in the Elementary Championship (Kinder-5th grade) category earned second place with a score of 23.5 and are also advancing to nationals. The team representing Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. STEAM Academy was comprised of Luis Miramontes, Angel M. Parra, Christian R. Gomez, and Michael Hidalgo.  Their teammates are Allen Treviño, Zaiden Perez, Roy Garcia IV, Eritza Y. Sequera, Christian Rada, and Noah Gonzales.

“We are so proud of all our chess students for their tenacity, dedication, and commitment to playing their best as they represented San Benito CISD and competed against students from all over Region VIII,” said Orlando López, San Benito CISD School Board President.

“Our district is well-known for our outstanding chess program, which is implemented district-wide and taught at all campuses by our After School Program staff. Together, we have all built an extraordinary chess program which has sent teams to nationals for 15 consecutive years,” added López.

San Benito CISD chess teams demonstrated they are fierce competitors at the highest level of play, as they vied up to the final round for the championship. The difference between some final scores were separated by as little as a half point.  So many players fought hard to play their best, often with games lasting over three hours!

The tenacious character of San Benito CISD’s chess players emerged, playing round after round against opponents with higher ratings. In true Greyhound spirit, they stuck with it and went the distance.

“Throughout the years, our chess program has exemplified winning traditions and championship titles,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman. “Our district remains committed to its nationally-acclaimed chess program,” he added.

“Our students have a record of success in chess,” said Teresa Padilla, San Benito CISD Family Engagement Specialist. “I am proud to have worked alongside visionary leaders to bring chess to San Benito CISD over 20 years ago, and I am even prouder of how far we have come in helping make this program a point of pride for our district and our community,” she added.

“This is not only a mental game, but one that teaches our students discipline, strategy, commitment, and many other wonderful skills that then translate into academic and life-long success,” concluded Padilla.

San Benito CISD currently has 14 campuses in the district that competed and will compete in local chess tournaments, the Region VIII Scholastic Chess Tournament, and the 2020 Texas South Scholastic Chess Championship.

“Chess has proven to show a positive academic outcome for students in math and reading. In order to win a game of chess, a player must have exceptional reasoning skills, time management, critical thinking and goal setting in relation to the overall outcome of a loss, win, or a draw,” said Nancy Ramirez, Director of the San Benito CISD After School Program. “We are so proud of our students and look forward to great accomplishments as they move on to compete at nationals,” she added.

On the heels of their success at regionals, chess players are already putting in the hard work and practice in preparation for the upcoming national and state competitions, including the following:

  • The Southern State Tournament (districts from San Antonio to Brownsville) will be held on March 6-8 at the McAllen Convention Center;
  • The National Junior High Championship Tournament will be in Jacksonville, Florida, April 24-26, 2020; and
  • The National Elementary Championship will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, May 8-10, 2020.

“Chess is an integral part of San Benito CISD, and it is part of our identity and culture. The district is proud to continue investing to expand our program and cultivating a love for chess to our students, parents, and community,” said López.

“Each year our teams get better and better, and we hope to capture the National Championship title in the future.  Best of luck to all our students as they prepare to compete at state and nationals!” Lopez added.

San Benito CISD would like to congratulate all players and extend a special word of appreciation to the supportive parents and also to the coaches and coordinators for their efforts in coaching, checking games, motivating players, and encouraging the teams at all events.