For years, the chess team at Signal Mountain High School consisted of just Chris Miles and Alex DePasquale. This year the two are seniors, and in order to keep the club alive once they graduate, they knew they needed to increase membership dramatically.
"It was going to die out, so we needed to recruit people," said Miles. "It's better to learn to play more people."
He started talking about the club with classmates in the hallways and promoted the club on "Sup Signal," a school news show created by a friend for his senior project. He also put up posters around the school.
The club now has 16 members who regularly attend and recently placed second in the regional competition. Members on the team who placed second at regionals and will go on to the state competition include Miles, DePasquale, Forrest Hooton and sixth-grader George Andreescu.
George said he started playing chess as a fourth-grader and plays nearly every day. Despite his young age, he joined the high school team after graduating from Nolan and studies with a chess tutor.
Miles, who as club president keeps track of attendance at meetings, chooses pairings for future meetings and tallies up wins and losses, said George will likely be among the team's leaders next year. Miles said one benefit of playing chess is it has helped to alleviate his attention deficit disorder symptoms.
"It helps me concentrate on one thing and one thing only," he said. "It's a fun experience, and it does inadvertently teach planning and strategizing."
Four teams from Signal Mountain will be advancing to the upcoming state tournament after successes at the regional tournament, where Nolan's third-grade-and-under team placed third, Thrasher's third-grade-and-under team placed first, Thrasher's fifth-grade-and-under team placed third and the high school team placed second.