THIS ARTICLE City schools shine as Wilson bests SOTA in chess finals first appeared in the D & C. Due to server change, some of the pictures are missing
• April 18, 2015
Chess is alive and well in the RCSD.
Coming off stellar regular seasons, Joseph C. Wilson Commencement High School (9 -3) faced off Saturday against the School of the Arts (11-1) in the championship round of the Rochester Area Chess League playoffs in a 13 team, 12 school field. Burnishing their dynastic credentials, the Wildcats subdued the upstart Silver Hawks in a 4 board shutout, capturing their second title in three seasons.
As I have written, the powerhouse team began their dominant run when they first competed as 6th graders at the Wilson Foundation Academy, since then playing and winning at the local, state and national levels. Only now 10th graders, Coach Tom Mueller’s squad figures to add to its unmatched legacy in the long history of city chess, dating back to Joe Accongia’s 1970s dynasties at the old Jefferson High School.
Furthermore, Mueller sees chess making inroads into the larger Wilson consciousness as after school practice sessions draw increasing numbers of non-team members eager to learn the game.
Wilson defeated a SOTA team that played above Coach Walter Lanik’s expectations. Led by two 7th graders, Pahz Cherelin and Franklin Jones, who Lanik describes as an unexpected “gift from heaven,” SOTA handily captured first place in League 2 (defeating cross town rival McQuaid in all three meetings) before falling to Mueller’s more experienced group. SOTA has had a vibrant chess program for well over 15 years and the next five look ever so promising.
In winning their title, the Wildcats earned a measure of redemption by defeating their arch nemesis Brighton 25 – 15 in a third round victory. Last year, the Barons ended a long Wilson winning streak en route to the championship. This season, the Eastsiders beat the Westsiders 3 out of 4 in the regular season. But when it counted, the Black and Red rose to the occasion.
Sadly, two city schools, East and All City, did not field teams this year despite success in the 2013 – 2014 season. The All City situation is particularly unfortunate.
As I wrote in the post, for several years running the school had a remarkably strong program coached by Aaron Boucher and Glenn Edwards, both of whom gave their all. However, All City has been in a period of transition and change, and this instability may have contributed to the disappearance of the program. Ultimately, the loss of the All City program points to how hard it is for our District to maintain continuity in the face of the many external pressures faced by urban schools.
Hopefully, the East program, which was dormant this year, will reemerge when East is managed by the University of Rochester. I can think of no better use of extracurricular resources than to build and promote chess as an activity available to all.
One note. While I root for city teams, I have divided loyalties as I played for Brighton in the late 70s and early 80s. As seen in the caption for a Democrat & Chronicle article, I, like the Barons this year, tasted defeat.