Green Hope High School Chess Team Heads Into Nationals After First Place Win


Photo taken by the Charlotte Chess Center

Green Hope Chess Team Group Picture (From Left: Alex Chen, Benjamin Yan, Naveen Prabhu)

Samir Tusneem, Co-Editor-in-Chief

On March 16, 2022, Green Hope High School’s very own chess team obtained a big win at the state tournament in Charlotte, obtaining the first-place trophy and boasting three players in the top four in the final standings.

Naveen Prabhu (Rating 2160), Benjamin Yan (Rating 2077), and Alexander Chen (Rating 2173)  all contributed to this success as they placed first, second, and fourth, respectively.

In terms of the competition, the Green Hope team expressed the challenge that came with playing the team from Charlotte, Ardrey Kell High School. Having a 200-point deficit in terms of average rating, the Green Hope team went into the competition with low expectations but ultimately came out as the underdogs of the tournament.

“I think I did pretty well. Heading into the tournament, I was seeded ninth based on rating out of around 48 players, and I finished second, which was a pretty good performance by my standards,” stated Green Hope Senior Benjamin Yan. “Overall, the average opponent I played had a higher rating than me, and I was able to win 4/5 of my games,” he added.

Similarly, senior National Master Alex Chen shared this sentiment, describing a bitter-sweet finish to the tournament. “Overall, I am pretty disappointed with my results.  In my 4th round I was completely winning against the second seed but then blundered a draw away in a strained time scramble,” Alex stated. ”But, I am happy with how the team performed and we played very well.  In these scholastic tournaments, luck plays a very important factor in who you play, your tie breaks, and how your opponents perform, so a lot of these things were out of my control,” he added. 

Senior Naveen Prabhu, who finished first in the tournament, also made a great feat as he obtained the Scholastic State Champion title for the state of North Carolina.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled. I feel like going into it, we were the underdogs as the Charlotte school, our biggest rival, has a huge chess scene and a lot of talented juniors there. To be able to beat all of them and win first is a dream come true. There is nobody happier than me,” Naveen stated.

In order to prepare for the tournament, Naveen referenced many individual practices and heavy training to ensure success. “I took it really seriously. It was our last chance to play at states as it is only through 12th grade. I put a lot more effort and time into it through playing training games and taking lessons with my coach. I feel like it paid off pretty well,” he explained.

Seniors Benjamin Yan (Left) and Naveen Prabhu (Right) Matched Against Each Other (Photo taken by the Charlotte Chess Center)


Despite this success, however, Naveen believes that there is always room for improvement. “The games were really really messy. I was losing a lot of them but managed to come back,” he remarked. “I definitely want to improve a lot in my openings; they were just awful. I was trying to play faster in this tournament, so it paid off there. I had a lot more time than my opponents.”

Similarly, Ben reflected on his performance during the tournament, describing improvements he wanted to make not only in his gameplay but also his mentality during the matches. “I think one thing that really peeved me was that I was really stressed during the tournament. Everything was really stressful. It was really tight. We would finish a game, and we would only have around ten minutes heading into the next round,” he reflected. “I think using my time to dedicate to stress management would have been better,” he added.

As these three seniors begin to transition into college life, they all hope to continue playing chess regardless of where they end up. “I think one thing I want to do is become a National Master and try to pass on the knowledge I have gained during my chess career to the youth, like elementary schoolers,” Ben stated. I was in a situation when I was growing up where I was fortunate enough to have a chess coach and having that chess coach to train me and mentor me and get my mind right was really helpful for me, not only in the game of chess but also outside of chess,” he added.

As for the future of the Green Hope team, as these seniors begin to leave, they offer one piece of advice for underclassmen who would like to get involved: practice.

“I would say having passion for the game is by far the best thing you can have,” Naveen said. “If you have free time and you are playing chess, you are already on a bright path.”

With this win, it is evident that the future of Green Hope’s chess team is bright. We wish the best of luck to these seniors as they begin to enter the next stage of their chess careers, and we know they will succeed anywhere they go.