The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


Championing chess at Jones

Jones chess team makes state tournament for first time ever
Photo credit to Constanze LaFlamme ’24

From Feb. 9-10, the Jones chess team competed in the state finals of the IHSA chess competition in Peoria, IL, where they ranked 70th out of 128 teams.

The weeks leading up to the finals included training and preparations for qualifying tournaments.

“The buildup was that we played in a sectional tournament,” said David Franklin, a parent volunteer chess coach. “It’s sort of like a Chicago-and-its-suburbs qualifier.”

Performing well at sectionals allowed the team to move on to the final event in Peoria.

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“The most important tournament for state was a sectional tournament which qualified us for state and placed us where we were in the lineup,” said Joey Spalliero ‘24, a team captain.

The team played in sectionals hosted by Acero/Garcia High School with 22 other schools, placing eighth.

“The team did really well, higher than expected in terms of our placements,” said Spalliero.

Lots of training ensured the team would perform well enough to place well in sectionals.

“There was a lot of training being done here and online via Discord,” said Jo Swan ‘26. “There was a lot of intensity in how people were getting ready.”

The state finals event was an intense two days, for which the team arrived on Thursday night beforehand.

“It’s a grueling event, it was seven matches over two days,” said Franklin. “You had one match at nine, another at 11:30, another match at two, another match at five, so you’re basically spending a really long day intensely thinking and playing.”

The group camaraderie was applauded by Spalliero.

“I was really proud to see how well connected our whole group is,” said Spalliero. “Our whole team, from boards one to eight, seems like they’re friends and everyone is connected and talking about chess.”

Spalliero and coaches Franklin and Igor Tsyganov were acknowledged for the energy they brought.

“[Joey] was really, really persistent and energized the whole way through,” said Swan. “I was really proud of our coaches for sticking it through.”

Freshman competitors Anthony Tsyganov ‘27 and Max Rubenstein ‘27 on boards two and three, respectively, and Ernesto Maldonado ‘27, the alternate player, showed grit in the matches according to Swan.

“They’re all very good at keeping their head in the game, even when things got tough,” said Swan. “A lot of their games were the deciding factor on whether we won the round or not and they pulled through almost every time.”

Despite five losses to 13-seed New Trier in the opening round, the team stuck through it.

“Even after we lost we still weren’t completely down,” said Anthony Tsyganov.

Going forward, Franklin hopes to gain more interest and skill in the team.

“I just want to continue to learn, have fun, and get better,” Franklin. “We have some people who come to the chess club just to hang out, but we have a good group of about 10 to 12 students who really want to compete against other high schools.”

The next major competition for the team is Apr. 5-7 when nationals are hosted in Baltimore.

“There are nationals, and I really hope the people who go, including myself, do really well,” said Swan.

Anthony Tsyganov expresses his hopes to continue to do well in state competitions.

“[I hope] to make states again and to have better results,” said Anthony Tsyganov.

Playing well and having fun is at the core of the team and looks to grow in the future, according to Spalliero.

“I want Jones to become a school that has a good chess team,” said Spalliero. “I think we have a good community of people who like playing the game.”

Photo credit to Igor Tsyganov

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Noah Barbas '24
Noah Barbas '24, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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