Last Thursday afternoon, 23 students from Divine Savior Academy climbed into vans and airplanes to make the trek up to Nashville, Tennessee, to compete in the Chess Super Nationals. This event occurs every three years and combines students from every age (kindergarten through high school) into one mega tournament. Over 5,300 players from across the country attended the three-day competition.
Seven years ago, the new school began a fledgling chess team with 5 players at the elementary level. The team has since grown to over 50 players and has blossomed under the coaching of chess master, Gilberto Luna II, last year’s “Chess Coach of the year” for the State of Florida. DSA’s high school team, ranked 48th, competed in a division that had over 60 teams entered. Undaunted by the rankings, DSA players began the tournament with a strong showing, coming out on top after the first round. After a few more close rounds, they finished the last round tied for first place against the New York team, I.S. 318, who were recently the topic of the documentary Brooklyn Castle, which detailed their rise to the top in the world of chess. After some tense moments, tie-break procedures were reviewed, and the results were announced—Doral’s own Divine Savior Academy were the National Champions!
The years of hard work and practice have paid off for these bright, young minds. Besides winning the top spot as a team in the K-12 Under 1600 division, the DSA K-3 Under 800 team won 21st place, and a number of individual students placed as well. Third-grader Jesus Bermudez tied for 4th place in the K-3 Under 800 division and eleventh-grader Michael Thomson placed 19th in the K-12 Under 800 Division. In the K-12 Under 1600 division, tenth-graders Luca Sepulveda placed 11th, Jonathan Labrado placed 16th, and Santiago Muñoz placed 17th.