By: Akiva Poppers (’18)

After another successful regular season, which saw the MTA Chess Team defeat Heichal 14-0 (twice), JEC 12.5-1.5, and TABC 10-4, the Lions secured a spot in the Chess Championship for a fourth consecutive year. For the third time in those four years, it would be held at MTA. After a 3-way tie for the Championship last year, any result but a sole Championship win would be a disappointment for the Lions. The teams MTA was to face were RAMAZ, Kushner, and HAFTR. Instead of the normal setup, where each of the 7 starters plays two games (one as white, one as black) against his opponent, each starter only played one game in the Championship. As usual, each starter had a spotter, a teammate who is allowed to talk with the starter and provide advice (or in some cases, assist the starter by annotating the game so the starter can analyze the game after it is over). From the luck of the draw, MTA was set to play RAMAZ in three games, Kushner in two, and HAFTR in two; of those 7 games, MTA would play three as white and four as black. The games had a time control of 35|0, meaning that each player had 35 minutes to complete all of his moves.

On board 1 was Captain Akiva Poppers (‘18). In a tactical ploy, usual board 2, Assistant Captain Noam Putterman (‘18) played board 4; Kovi Pahmer (‘20) and Zach Gurwitz (‘18) moved up to boards 2 and 3, respectively. Closing out the starting 7 were Micha’el Shloush (‘19), Jonathan Felman (‘18), and Yosef Flamenbaum (‘21). After an inspirational pre-game huddle, the Lions were ready to dominate. 70 minutes later, when all was said and done, MTA was victorious in 6 out of the 7 games; all 4 Seniors were victorious. Following a brief confirmation of the results, Coach Rabbi Mendelson, as coach of the host school, announced MTA as the Champions. It was an amazing way to close out the best four-year run MTA has likely ever had.

Even with four starters graduating, MTA is in good shape to compete again next year. We wish the team the best of luck in their quest to repeat. Regardless of what happens, the Lion’s pride resulting from this year’s hard work and commitment will be emblazoned in five words on a piece of metal in the trophy case for years to come: 2018 Yeshiva League Chess Champions.


Comments are closed.