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Schoessler wins state chess title

State title his first

Powell resident Tim Schoessler captured the Wyoming state chess title in late September in Casper, sweeping his three opponents across the board on his way to victory. The state title was the first for Schoessler, who made his first appearance in the championship event at the age of 16.

“It was a lot of fun, and winning the title was something I’d always wanted to accomplish,” said Schoessler. “I’d had a couple runner-up finishes previously and I’d placed in the top four some times, but this was the first time to win it.”

Schoessler’s start to the tournament was a bit on the shaky side. Playing an opponent with a much lower rating, Schoessler said he struggled a bit, but held a level position going into the end game — the portion of a chess game after several of the pieces have been removed from the board.

“I always feel like that’s the strongest part of my game,” said Schoessler. “I feel like if I can get to that part of the game in a neutral position, I’ll be able to win.”

That hunch proved correct as Schoessler out-maneuvered his opponent late in the game to claim the win. His second round game gave him fewer nervous moments, despite coming against a higher-ranked opponent. That set the stage for a winner-takes-all final round game.

“My opponent in the last round was a guy I’d played several times previously and it always seems like I wind up with the black pieces against him,” said Schoessler. “Sure enough, they post the round and I’ve got black again.”

In chess, playing with the white pieces is considered favorable as it gives that player the advantage of the first move and, to a degree, some control over the style of game to be played. In a game where the winner would be crowned the state champion, it forced Schoessler to have to consider his strategy.

“Had we drawn the game, the championship would have been decided by a speed game,” Schoessler said, refering to a faster-paced game where both players have just a matter of minutes to complete their moves. “I actually enjoy speed chess, so I would have been happy forcing things that far.”

Instead, Schoessler found an opportunity midway through the contest to exercise some tactics and exploit a pin — an opportunity to capture an opposing piece that’s unable to move to safety because a more-valuable chess piece sits behind it on the line of attack. A few moves later, Schoessler’s opponent resigned, giving him victory in the game and the overall state title.

“It was awesome, I definitely want to go back now and win it again next year,” said Schoessler, who had been unable to play in the championship event in 2011.

Until then, Schoessler is hoping to organize a chess club locally in Powell, tentatively for Wednesday nights. Interested players are urged to contact him at 754-6112.

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