- Sponsorship -

Chess players gain focus, swagger


After winning the chess tournament at Comstock Park High School for two years running, Senior Stephen Riley could walk through commencement with a bit of swagger.

Riley, who was considered an underdog both years, won the tournament that has been staged by math teacher and tennis coach Peter Luczyk for the past two years.

Senior Stephen Riley won the chess tournament at Comstock Park High School for a second year in a row

The games, which take place mainly during the students’ advisory hours, are fast-paced events in which the contestants stand at one of several chess boards Luczyk has set up at the front of his classroom.

“No one thought I was going to win,” says Stephen, who will go on to classes at Grand Rapids Community College this fall. “I didn’t even think I would win.”

Stephen mowed through a field of some 30 players – mostly boys – who play their games with swagger and abandon, usually in less than half an hour. Stephen is known for sacrificing his chess pieces if there is an advantage to be gained at the end, says Luczyk, who has coached most of the players but remains silent during the tournament.

By the time he checkmated classmate Nate Miller in the final match,  Stephen cornered Nate’s king with only four pieces on the board. It’s an unorthodox style that throws off his competitors. “I’m setting them up. It doesn’t matter how many pieces I lose,” Stephen says.

Competitors focus on the boards during practice rounds in math teacher Peter Luczyk’s classroom

Stephen, who had played only four weeks before winning last year’s tournament, said he has honed his skills by watching YouTube videos and by competing with the other chess enthusiasts Luczyk has taught and coached at the high school.

“Chess has taught me that you just don’t ever give up,” says Stephen. “You always have opportunity and you can be fine with a little bit of mistakes now and then.”

Luczyk, a 30-year teacher who also coaches the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams and has started an outdoor club, says he enjoys organizing the extra-curricular activities because it helps him get to know the students on a personal level.

As he watched the players battle each other side-by-side during the early rounds of the tourney, Luczyk smiled and whispered: “Isn’t it amazing to have eight high school boys this quiet and focused?”

- Sponsorship -
James Harger
James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.

LATEST ARTICLES

The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

For MLK Day, educators discuss improving equity in education

A leading advocate on equity in education says Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy requires educators to dig deeper into making sure all students have what they need to thrive...

Virtual job-shadow opportunities available

Groundhog Shadow Day, which gives area students an inside look at different careers, is going virtual this year...

‘Hope on the horizon’ as local teachers start getting COVID-19 vaccine

Lincoln School special education teacher, Ann Post believes there is 'hope on the horizon' for Kent ISD teachers and educators across Kent County after receiving her first round of the COVID-19 vaccine...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

New high school teachers rise to challenges of pandemic year

Four new high-school teachers have so far led in-person, hybrid and virtual classes, having accepted the challenges of teaching in the midst of a pandemic...

No obstacle too challenging for young problem-solvers

Problem solving, strategic thinking and collaboration are on tap for young thinkers in a program at Pine Island Elementary School...

Comstock Park closes all schools for in-person instruction

Dave Washburn, superintendent of Comstock Park Schools, said the decision to go all-virtual was made due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases among staff and students, as well as the number of staff and students quarantined...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS