JCHS chess team racks up trophies in tournament debut

More than a trophy per person — it was quite an impressive haul for the Jewish Community High School of the Bay chess team in its first time at a state competition. The seven JCHS students brought home five awards, including first place for K-12 junior varsity team, and 10 trophies.

Chess team members receive trophy from a tournament official. photo/courtesy michael fitch

Coach Michael Fitch’s team, which he founded in 2014 when he joined the faculty at the San Francisco school, is composed entirely of freshmen and sophomores. Fitch teaches math and science at JCHS.

“The team has been practicing after school, at lunch and once a week when the club meets, as they are available,” Fitch said. “Because this was our first competition, team members were all unrated going in — and now I hope we get to go to some national competitions next year.”

The JCHS squad competed with more than 1,000 players from around the state at the 41st annual CalChess Scholastic State Chess Championship, held March 18-20 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Sophomores Jesse Lieberman and Ben Michelson are co-captains of the team, which also includes Steven Lazarevsky, Jacob Derin, Misha Lubich, Zev Ross and Luca Perr.

 “I came in solely wanting the experience, but I look forward now to every tournament with excitement and anticipation,” said 16-year-old Michelson. “Each game took two hours of solid thinking and concentration out of me, and it was not only grueling but pressure-filled as well. I loved every second of it.”