A Farragut High School chess team, all underclassmen, won second place in the 2017 Tennessee State Scholastic Team Chess Tournament.
The FHS team, comprised of sophomores Will Hong and Kevin Chen and freshmen Forest Chen and Kevin Wang, competed in the tournament at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville Saturday, March 25. The first-place team was comprised of home-schooled students from Nashville, said Jiangang Chen, the team’s coach and father of Forest Chen.
“With all four team members’ efforts, the FHS chess team achieved the second place and the highest place in all Tennessee public schools,” Zigang Wang, Kevin Wang’s father, said.
Each of the second-place team members received a scholarship of $2,500 a year for four years to TTU.
“It’s pretty cool,” Forest said about winning.
“I guess it feels like an honor to represent my region as the region champion,” Kevin Chen said.
“It was pretty delightful, exciting,” Kevin Wang said.
“It feels pretty nice,” Hong said. “The competition at state is much tougher [than the regional competition].”
“I honestly thought the regional tournament wasn’t too hard,” Kevin Chen said. “State was more challenging. I’m more excited about that.”
While most of the participating state teams are familiar with their competition, Hong said there are people who are a grade above them or two grades above them who have more experience and are tougher to beat.
Farragut’s team competed against 15 other teams in the state competition.
“There are four regions [in the state competition], and each region has four teams who went to state,” Hong said.
“There were a total of four rounds to compete for high school section state championship,” Jiangang Chen said. “FHS won two rounds. They drew their games against Webb School and against the first-place team from Nashville. They had an excellent performance.”
This was not the first time these boys placed high in a state tournament. When they were at Farragut Middle School, they competed together as a team two years ago and won first place.
The boys have been playing chess since they were in elementary school. Kevin Wang started when he was 5.
“Physically, you are battling wits,” Hong said. “I find it interesting to have a friendly competition in a way that is unique.”
When Kevin Chen was introduced to the game, he said he thought it was interesting — like a board game where everyone had an equal chance in the beginning.
“Who wins and who loses all depends on your skill,” Kevin Chen said.
Forest Chen said he started playing because he thought the game was “pretty cool.”
He added the most challenging aspect of the game is patience.
“A game could take four hours or so,” he said.