TA had a secret weapon going into the Chess Championships this year. Agata Sloniewska won all four of her matches at the Maine Girls’ Closed Chess Championship on February 2, 2019 to become the top player in Maine girls’ chess. Sloniewska is a sophomore at Thornton Academy and will compete as the representative from Maine at the U.S. Girls’ National Chess Championship in Orlando, Florida in August.
Ranked number one going into the tournament for girls K-12, Sloniewska defeated the top opponents to be proclaimed champion. Three out of her four matches lasted over an hour, and she was particularly challenged in her final match.
"The last match determined first or third place. I thought I could lose,” Sloniewska admitted.
Sloniewska has been playing chess since she was ten years old. Originally, she became interested in the game while watching her brother and her father play. She began playing competitively seven years ago.
Sloniewska credits her participation in the Thornton Academy Chess Club with helping to prepare her for the tournament. The club meets on Monday afternoons to study chess strategy and play practice matches.
"The puzzles that Mr. Rackmales sets up [Chess Club advisor] are very helpful. We could also look at what we did wrong in other games so that we can do better,” Sloniewska said about the practices.
Possessing a sound strategy is the key to winning chess matches. Sloniewska pays attention to her opponents’ moves to look for a mistake. “After the first couple of moves, you can determine your strategy based on your opponent’s style of play.” said Sloniewska.
At the tournament, Sloniewska accepted the first-place trophy from Grandmaster Sabina Foisor. Foisor is the 2017 US Women’s Chess Champion as well as the US Chess 2017 player of the year.
The next step in Sloniewska’s chess journey is the Maine High School team chess championship in March. She will compete with four other Thornton Academy chess players and try to bring home the championship for the Golden Trojans. She will also compete in the Maine High School individual chess championship as well as the U.S. Girls’ National Championship later in 2019.