Checkmate: VHS Chess Club hosts first competition

Published 11:57 am Tuesday, February 20, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Classes were not in session on President’s Day, but some Verbena High School students were still in school, getting their first tastes of chess competition.

The chess competition was the first to be hosted by VHS since the Chess Club started earlier this school year.

“I felt like I would be lucky if I had five kids,” VHS teacher and chess club sponsor Michael Martin said. “It just does my heart good to see 16 kids come out on a day off from school.”

Martin said the event was coordinated with a chess club from Wetumpka that is also in its first year. Caesar Lawrence, an organizer of chess events, helped the two groups get together and donated prizes.

Faust said she started playing chess this school year.

Martin said it gave students the “opportunity to play students they wouldn’t normally play.”

When students play the same people several times, they learn their strategies and it is not as challenging.

The event consisted of four matches. VHS top winners included Hunter Hayes, first place;
Tommy Robbins, second place; Alexis Faust, third; and Jaylen Goggins, fourth.

Faust said she enjoyed getting to meet new people during the event.

“It was my first competition,” Faust said.

She said playing someone new can be challenging.

“I don’t know what tactics they are going to use to try to beat me,” Faust said, “It is kind of a learning process.”

She said she has improved by playing chess with her friends and trying to teach it to her cousin.

“He’s (Martin) my favorite teacher,” Faust, a freshman, said. “I’m not in sports, so I wanted to join another club.”

Robbins, a senior, said he has known how to play chess for a while, but this the first year he has played on a regular basis.

He also joined the club because of Martin.

“Mr. Martin is just a really great teacher,” Robbins said. “Chess is just a really great way to think tactically and keep your mind alert.”

Robbins said he was impressed by the skill level of the Wetumpka players.

“Everyone played really well,” Robbbins said.

Williams, a freshman, said he enjoyed seeing people from the Montgomery chess tournament he competed in at the Verbena chess event.

Logan Williams joined the chess club after a concussion in football took him out of sports.

In addition to face-to-face games, students can hone their skills through virtual games at

Martin has also incorporated chess into his geometry classes to help students with the logical reasoning for developing proofs and other concepts.

As the Verbena team develops under Martin’s leadership, Robbins said he thinks the school will have “some really talented chess players.”