Schoenbauer makes school history with high placement at national chess tournament
An eighth grader at Nicollet Middle School, Jake Schoenbauer is making a name for himself in the world of school chess.
Though it was completely online this year, Jake made school history by tying for 14th place in the National Online Scholastic Chess Championship that was held June 12-13.
“I have coached Jake for three seasons and can say he is one of the hardest workers of any players I have coached in 50 years, going way above minimum training requirements,” said District 191 chess coach Brian Ribnick. “To be a great chess player, you have to have the natural gift for the game, you have to have a love for the game, you have to be able to suffer tough defeats and be willing to learn from those and keep moving forward, and you need to be willing to put in the extra training.”
Jake has all these qualities and more.
Between rounds during the tournament, Ribnick and trainer National Master Craig Heirigs analyzed Jake’s games and then conferenced with him through a video call to help him mentally prepare for the upcoming rounds.
He was only outplayed in one out of seven games in the qualifier, pitting the top 54 players in the nation against each other. Jake’s one other loss came during finals when he had an accidental mouse slip, which happens when you let go of the mouse before placing the piece into the intended square. This is one of the unfortunate things that happens when playing virtual chess.
“Most players would have been devastated by something like that and not win another game. Although this accident happened in round two of finals, Jake did not lose any of his remaining four games, and many of those opponents were rated hundreds of points ahead of him,” said Ribnick. “His performance showed so much about the skill, determination and heart of this outstanding young man!”
Last April, the Nicollet Middle School chess team, to which Jake belonged, won the 2021 Middle School Chess state championship. It was Nicollet's first time in school history to win the state chess title.