Jennings Impressive Across the Board

In Check
Posted on 05/22/2023
Image of Jennings Chess Team(from Megan Becka,

Members of the Jennings Community Learning Center’s chess team won the Reserve Division Championship in the Ohio Middle School and High School Chess Championship, Akron Public Schools announced.

The championship, which was hosted by Progress with Chess, was held May 6-7 at the I-X Center in Cleveland. More than 250 students from around the state competed in the event, which has individual and team competitions for elementary, middle and high school students.

The competition is based on skill level, and competitors are matched based on their United States Chess Federation ratings, according to Jennings CLC Chess Coach Joanne Cook.

Members of the Jennings CLC winning team include Smile Adhikari, Kaw Bluet, Simon Chuwan, Kyron Gilmer, Darrien King, Dorrean King, Cesar Pinones, Nishant Rai, Alan Rai, Suman Sangdhan, Frederick Turner and Isaiah Watkins. Adhikari also placed fifth as an individual in the tournament, according to Cook.

“Our chess club is very diverse,” Cook said. “We accept any Akron Public Schools student who does not have a chess club at their school. We also have many players whose first language is not English. It is amazing to see the camaraderie.”

Additional top finishers for Akron Public Schools include:
  • Akron Early College players Phat Ngo, Shaknil Garung and Rameshg Chetri, who placed fourth in the High School Division
  • Harris-Jackson Community Learning Center player Ziar Najeeb, who tied for first place in the Buckeye Elementary Open Champion Division
  • STEM High School player Ramesh Chhetri, who placed 10th in the High School Championship Division
Unlike many interscholastic competitions, chess competitions are silent; and parents and coaches are not allowed to watch participants compete. High school, middle school and elementary school events are held in separate rooms with many games going on in each. For the team competition, a school’s top four scorers make up the team score. Participants earn one point for a win and .5 points for a stalemate, according to Cook.

“We have had students improve their school attendance in order to be in the club,” Cook said. “Students gain independence, knowledge, patience, critical thinking skills, camaraderie, friendship, team building, intuition and more.”

The Jennings team is coached by Cook, Charles Jones, David Piper and David Keaton, all of whom volunteer their time to help challenge the students. The club was started by Bruce Hukill and Cook in 2014. The team practices weekly and throughout the summer. This year, they competed in five tournaments, according to Cook.

Image of Jennings Chess Team
Members of the Jennings CLC Chess Team celebrate their Reserve Division win in the Ohio Middle School and High School Chess Championship. Back row: Kaw Bluet, Cesar Pinones, Suman Sangdhan, Nishant Rai and Simon Chuwan. Front row: Isaiah Watkins, Smile Adhikari, Darrien King, Dorrean King and Alan Rai. (Courtesy of Akron Public Schools)
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