Thursday July 12, 2018
The 31st annual Vermont Scholastic Chess Championships were held earlier this year at the Berlin Elementary School, where 140 students from across the state competed for wins at their grade level. Carleton Plourde came out on top and was crowned champion in the high school competition. This August, he will represent Vermont at the national GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions in Middleton, Wisconsin. Coming in second this year at the state championship was 2016 winner Ragulan Sivakumar, a junior this fall at South Burlington High School.
Plourde, a South Burlington resident, says, “Winning the state championship was my primary goal for quite a while. When I played in the 2017 tournament, I thought I had a reasonable chance to win but lost my first game and, even though I won my other three games, I was out of contention. Over the next year, I played in more tournaments to gain experience, played with very experienced players, and studied whenever else I had time to improve my game. I came into the tournament in 2018 knowing that I could and probably should win. Other people had high expectations for me as well. It was incredible to be able to actually win the tournament and to get to go to the Denker.”
Having just turned 18, Plourde was homeschooled and graduated high school this year, after completing his senior year in the Early College program at the Community College of Vermont.
Although he has enjoyed playing chess since he was young, it was in January 2017 when he started playing with the Chittenden County Chess Club, and, as he describes it, “playing and studying seriously.” He says, “I began to use both books and online resources to study. Encouraged by and traveling with players from the chess club, I began to play in tournaments frequently including the state scholastic tournament in 2017. I had varying levels of success in these tournaments, but they always prompted me to play more.”
Plourde looks forward to the upcoming Denker tournament, calling it “a once in a lifetime opportunity.” Since 1984, the competition, named after American chess player, Grandmaster, and author, Arnold Denker, has provided winning high school players a chance to compete nationally for college scholarships. Plourde says, “I will get to play with the top player from each state. Additionally, the tournament takes place at the same time and location as the U.S. Open [the 119th Annual U.S. Open Chess Championship]. Being able to be where the best players, junior and adult, are and see their games would be fantastic.”
Plourde is raising money to help pay expenses to attend the Denker Tournament in Wisconsin and has created a GoFundMe page to raise money for hotel and transportation costs. Currently, he is over halfway to his fundraising goal of $1,400.
Meanwhile, the young state champion reports that, in addition to playing approximately one tournament a month, he “plays a long game at least once a week on Thursdays and many shorter games online every day.” Speaking to the influence of chess in his eighteen years, Plourde remarks, “I am sure I will play for the rest of my life.”
SOURCE: Carole Vasta Folley, The Other Paper