Nine Lower School students competed in two divisions in the North Carolina K-12 Chess Championship, which took place March 6-8 in Raleigh. The K-3 team, made up of five third-grade Ravens, placed fourth out of 17 teams; and the K-2 team, consisting of two kindergarteners and two first-graders from Ravenscroft, placed third out of 10 teams.
Members of the K-3 team — which was organized by Lower School parent Sean Marlowe and his son, Henry, earlier this fall to capitalize on third-graders' informal matches during lunch at school — had made their first Team vs. Team tournament appearance in December.
"Teams there are broken up into division based on rank, and our students placed third in their division. They were able to each take a turn keeping the trophy before giving it to the school," he said. "Following this, the team was able to grow to five members and compete in the Triangle Chess Championships in January. The team fell short there and ended up in fifth place in the K-3 division, but they gained a sense of energy and desire to continue to improve and grow."
The team held two practices at the Northeast Regional Library in addition to home study and lessons at Triangle Chess.
Although they went into the two-day state tournament as the lowest-rated competitive team in their division, the K-3 team fought hard and ended up placing fourth (and just one point short of a tie for third) in the Team section. In the end, three Ravens — Henry and fellow third-graders Wesley Wu and Brandon Pacca — were one win shy of earning a Top-3 finish in their class, and classmates Jack Thompson and Christopher Jackson both pulled off upsets against players rated over 100 points higher.
Adding to the fun was the last-minute creation of a K-2 team that also beat all expectations. Two younger siblings had participated in the K-1 division on the first day, doing well enough that the team's parents recruited two additional players for the K-2 division on Day 2. Three of those players — kindergarteners Olivia Marlowe and Alex Jackson and first-grader James Wu — got their first-ever tournament win en route to the weekend's strong overall showing for Ravenscroft. Their teammate Benjamin Pacca, a first-grader, was able to deliver a point to the team total despite facing tough matchups.
"These are incredible feats, and the children should be proud," Marlowe added.
Lower School chess team participants: first row, Alexander Jackson (standing by knight), James Wu, Benjamin Pacca, Olivia Marlowe; second row, Christopher Jackson, Jack Thompson, Wesley Wu, Brandon Pacca, Henry Marlowe