Led by star senior, chess club strategizes for the season

Mack Nevells

Odd music booms from Jim Picard’s room from 2:45 to 4:00 twice a week from November to March as a collection of knights, kings, and queens fills the room. Home to the BSM chess team, this is where they practices but also have fun. Led by senior Cody Cullen, the chess team may not be as well known at BSM, but is treated like royalty at the tournaments every weekend as a top competitor.

Cody’s love for chess started 11 years ago in first grade when one of his best friends introduced him to the game. He loved chess for the feeling he got when he first beat his friends and the thought process that goes with each game. “All my friends used to play at my elementary school so I enjoyed playing against them––especially since I would normally win,” Cullen said.

(shannon o'connor)
(shannon o’connor)

This love for chess is what led him to join the team at BSM. The main goal of the club is for the 15 members to have fun while also advancing their skills. Mr. Picard makes each day interesting with his insightful comments and the odd music he enjoys playing during each practice.

The team is not all about fun however, many of it’s members enjoy the challenge and thought process that goes with playing a game of chess. “I like the challenge of playing the game, it’s familiar to me, and I like the people in the club,” Cullen said.

In past years, they have qualified for multiple conference championships, placing fourth in their conference in 2012 and second in the Northern Division League. Leading the way, Cullen keeps his team motivated with new goals, “We are going to be the best,” Cullen said.

Cullen has not taken part in any big tournaments since sophomore year, but that year at a national tournament in Minnesota he got 24th place in the U1200(under 1200) rated section. At tournaments there are roughly 100 people who attend. The setup is one similar to a ballroom at a hotel, with multiple tables set up with boards on each one that are labeled by number. Players are assigned opponents to play and then find the board they are assigned to and start the match.

When Cody plays he zones into the board with a fairly serious expression and studies each piece, thinking of what each could do. “Cody is a great player. He has a solid background but also is great at adjusting to his opponent and creative in his moves,” Picard said.

The chess team is still looking to be placed in a conference this year after last year when their conference fell apart. Last year, the team only lost one game to Eden Prairie but currently do not have a schedule of teams they play and they suspect that they will most likely just play one another this year. “My hope for this year is that we have quality pizza party to finish the year off well,” Cullen said.