Chess Champions: Catalina Foothills team wins state title

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 11:28 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -A timeless game of intellect has grown in popularity since the start of the pandemic.

Chess is more than a game, though, for Catalina Foothills High School students Pranav Iyer, Max Coy, Quinn Hudson, Jonathan Martinez and Matthew Coy.

“Being able to react to unexpected situations quickly and being able to come up with solutions,” said Iyer. “I think that’s a really valuable skill to have.”

“It also teaches humility,” said CFHS chess coach, Robby Adamson. “You don’t get better without making a lot of mistakes.”

His profession is law, but his passion is chess. Adamson has been teaching the team since 2004 and has a lot to show for it. He’s led Catalina Foothills to more than a dozen AIA state titles.

Once a week, the team meets to battle it out on the board, bringing their best moves to the table.

“Our goal is to not only win the state championship, but also perform at a national level,” Adamson said.

Every year, they do. Until 2020, that is, when the pandemic swept away any chance of competing nationally. It also pushed this year’s season into the spring and moved all matches online.

“Typically, in-person it’s a lot more spontaneous and energetic because anything can happen,” said Hudson. “But playing online you never know when an upset is going to happen, from a mouse slip; which we have seen many times, to even wifi issues.”

A year of uncertainty? Check. Overcoming their circumstance? Double check. Obstacles were no match for the CFHS chess team, which won this year’s state title, beating longtime rival Hamilton despite being outranked on all five boards.

“It’s almost poetic justice,” Adamson said.

The team also placed 5th nationally.

“The players are stronger in New York and California where chess is a much bigger thing than it is in Arizona,” said Matthew Coy. “So, it’s a pretty good place to come in.”

“I’m beyond proud of them,” said Adamson. “They exceeded my expectations.”

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