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Midvale Journal

Midvale Middle crowned Canyons’ chess champions

Mar 29, 2022 09:35PM ● By Julie Slama

Midvale Middle’s Checkmate Trojan chess team poses by the scores after winning the school’s ninth title in 12 years. (Photo courtesy of Midvale Middle School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

American chess grandmaster and world champion Bobby Fischer once said, “It’s just you and your opponent at the board and you’re trying to prove something.” 

On Jan. 29, Midvale Middle School’s chess team showed they had something to prove.

Midvale took first at Canyons School District’s intramural middle school chess tournament, beating their closest challenger, Albion, by seven points. Union finished third, followed by Draper Park, Mt. Jordan, Butler and Eastmont.

The Trojans brought the trophy to its new home—on display in the school’s trophy case by the cafeteria. It’s the school’s ninth title in the 12 years of the district’s intramural competition.

“The kids were excited, they thought it was pretty cool,” second-year coach Lori Onsae said. “They knew they won. These kids really worked hard to be able to do that.”

With the omicron variant of COVID-19 surging, there wasn’t a formal ceremony and spectators were limited. Still, with health and safety guidelines in place, the tournament was held.

Midvale’s team, which numbers about 30 students, practiced twice per week after school. They also held their own school tournament.

Last year, the Trojans placed third in the district tournament.

“We added some online kids to the team and some players came back with friends. Realizing what our competition was last year and comparing it to the growth that these kids have this year, I felt pretty hopeful going into the day,” Onsae said. “The best part overall was to see the number of kids that continued to come throughout the season and to see the player growth and maturity was really good.”

Six students competed against the top students at the other middle schools.

This year’s Midvale team was comprised of all seventh graders, with the exception of eighth-grader Christian Carter, who played on board 5. The seventh-grade students include George Wang, board 1; Neusha Nourmohammadi, board 2; Max Kluss, board 3; Rylan Gardner, board 4; Easton Richards, board 6; and alternates Mason Richards and Max Myers.

“With COVID, we weren’t able to do much celebrating other than the school announcements that were made,” she said. “Hopefully, next year we can do a family potluck or get together.”

Canyons also offers intramural cross country running in the fall, three-on-three basketball in the winter, and soccer in the spring for middle school students.

Canyons School District introduced its intramural program in 2010-11. Mt. Jordan won the inaugural tournament in 2011, followed by Midvale winning the district chess title from 2012-17, including 2015’s win with a perfect score. In 2018, Mt. Jordan beat Midvale; the Trojans finished second. Midvale returned as champions in 2019 and 2020, with the 2021 title going to Albion.