Chess Team rooked by COVID after days and knights of hard work


   Chess is a game that originated in India all the way back in the 6th century. Over time, it has gained mass popularity and has spread worldwide, even to the town of Rockford, Illinois. At Guilford High School, the chess team has been reestablished since the 2013-2014 school year, though the team dates back as early as 1966.

   “We have steadily added more players while also improving the quality of our program each year,” said Mr. Erik Czerwin, chess team coach and English teacher.

   Annually, the chess team competes in a conference schedule and in several Saturday tournaments. The team participates in the Northern Illinois Chess Conference, with teams from all over Northern Illinois. Although this may be a surprise, since the team competes in events through the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), chess is categorized as a sport.

   “This year, our conference is much smaller than usual since several teams could not get enough players to compete, so we split into two divisions,” said Mr. Czerwin.

   Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken effect, different activities have been altered or halted. Of course, chess is no exception, with team practices and meetings being held mostly remotely.

   “I’m a bit bummed out with the full-remote season,” said Minjmaa Amarsaikhan, sophomore.  “However, I know that it’s the most responsible option. The rest of the team also misses being able to play in real life. We have four seniors graduating this year, so I bet they wish that this could’ve ended up differently. However, we’re trying to remain optimistic and we’re looking forward to the chance of having a real season next year.”

   Despite the unfavorable conditions, the team’s last several years have been entertaining and an enjoyable experience.

   “My experience has been fun so far,” said Amarsaikhan. “Last year we went to a lot of tournaments and I had a good time. We also traveled to Peoria for State and stayed for three days. I’ve been able to meet a lot of great people. I was expecting it to be super nerdy, and it is, but I don’t regret it.”