Buchholz, Lincoln Middle win Florida chess championships 

Chess board
Photo by Jani Kaasinen/Unsplash

Buchholz High School and Lincoln Middle School students brought home gold during the Florida Scholastic Chess Championship in March.  

The Bobcats have won the K12 Championship for five of the last seven years, and the Terriers are now on a three-year winning streak for the K8 Championship. The two schools join their cross-town compatriots, Oak Hall, who swept the elementary sections.  

Sophomore Back Ngo led Buchholz with a third-place individual finish and 4/5 points. Freshmen Abhiram Pothuri and Jolie Huand ended in ninth and 10th places and both earned 3.5 points for the team.  

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Jerry Yao, another freshman, rounded out the team placements with 3 points and a 14th overall placement. Junior Andrew Xing also finished 22nd for the Bobcats.  

Lincoln’s eighth graders, Nate Ziegler and Brian Bird, both scored 3.5 points for their team. Individually, Ziegler finished 11th and Bird finished 15th. Coco Yao and Garrick Wu, both seventh graders, rounded out the team with 2 points each. 

Lincoln’s team scored 10.5 points to win, beating second place by 3 points. Buchholz’ team finished with 14 points, beating second place by 3.5 points. 

Britt Ryerson, owner of Logic Lab, has coached six of the nine players who competed. He said Ngo, who he hasn’t coached, is the best scholastic player Gainesville has produced. With a rating of 2440, Ngo is already an International Master, the second highest title available.  

Ryerson said chess players are getting better younger as internet training material spreads. Plus, these players have always used computers for analysis, improving strength and also changing the game.  

“Computers have shown that the initiative in chess, which is the player who is doing the attacking, has a lot of value,” Ryerson said. “So, kids do play a little bit more interestingly than we used to, and I think computers actually have a lot to do with that.” 

Instead of producing nonstop draws, Ryerson said computers have forced more creativity and aggression.   

Gainesville schools—Buchholz, Lincoln Middle, Oak Hall and Williams Elementary—have produced chess players that can sweep most state competitions. Ryerson said these four schools have won 75% of the Florida championships in the past seven years.  

He said perhaps fewer schools in Gainesville, compared with Miami, Tampa or Jacksonville, allow more concentrated attention. But competing in national tournaments, Ryerson said the numbers begin to make an impact, with powerhouse states like New York, California and Texas.  

Ryerson said New York has chess tournaments weekly—just a subway ride away. It also has stronger adult players for chess students to train against.    

“But we are the only state that really puts up any resistance, and then Gainesville is really the only city that sets up any resistance to those New York teams at the national grade-level championships,” Ryerson said. “So, I think we stack up pretty well. We just don’t have quite the numbers.”   

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I’m trying to read the story about the #$%@ robbery at Hitchcock’s, but it keeps linking to Chess story.

C.J. Gish

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