Top four players from JHCA Chess Tournament to represent State at National Invitationals

The first ever rated scholastic tournament at Jackson Hole Classical Academy held recently had a staggering attendance of 38 young players from five schools. To comprehend how amazing this number is, there were only a total of 17 chess players from Wyoming who were registered with the U.S. Chess Federation in 2021. Four of the players from the tournament will go on to represent Wyoming in the National Invitationals in July.
JHCA’s Chess Coach, Jay Stallings, reflected on the journey to get to this point and said "Polly Friess, our head of school, and I talked about our vision for the chess program at the start of 2021. This is what we dreamt of, but to actually see it come to fruition made me realize what can happen when you combine a strategic plan and a determined team. I'm very excited to see what the future holds for scholastic chess in Wyoming in general, and Jackson Hole in particular.”
William Alexander Aepli, a 12th-grader from Jackson Hole Community School, won the main 4th-12th grade event with a perfect score of four wins and no losses or draws. The K-3rd grade event also had a perfect score from Tilly Brooks Mitha, a 2nd-grader from Jackson Hole Classical Academy, who ran the table among the younger players.
Brian Walker, president of the Wyoming Chess Association, directed the event. Mr. Walker's position requires that he recommend players to represent Wyoming at the National Invitationals. He has recommended the following players and alternates to the U.S. Chess Federation:
High School: Will Aepli, 12th, from Jackson Hole Community School, (alternate is Dustin Nichols, 12th, from Cody High School); Middle School: Luke Gentile, 7th (alt: Bill Robinson, 8th) from Jackson Hole Classical Academy; Elementary School: Gus Brooks Mitha, 4th, (alt: Gabe Gentile, 4th) from Jackson Hole Classical Academy; and Wyoming's Top Girl is Tilly Brooks Mitha, 2nd (alt: Honor Reichel, 5th) from Jackson Hole Classical Academy.
Gus Brooks Mitha said, “My favorite part of the tournament was how much fun it was. I only learned how to play Chess nine months ago. [My friend] Bridger has helped me a lot. Coach Jay is really good at reviewing tactics so they stick in my brain. I'm excited to go to Nationals in California to play.”
Honor Reichel, 5th, said, “I really enjoyed the chess tournament. There was a friendly competitiveness and it was a really fun day, we all even played Chess with each other during the breaks. My Chess classes really helped me prepare for the tournament. I learned new strategies from Coach Jay and better openings to try. I got a lot better with my end game through having classes." 
Tournament officials and organizers across the United States have expressed amazement at the strong attendance numbers for a scholastic tournament in Wyoming, the first to be held in the State in five years. Upon hearing that Wyoming would have four representatives traveling to the National Invitationals in California this July, Jon Haskel (FL), the chairman of the Invitationals Committee said, “This is amazing. For the past several years the only way we could get any Wyoming reps was from a coach in Northern Colorado that was teaching chess in Cheyenne."

The National Invitationals will take place this year in Rancho Mirage, California at the end of July. Many of the invitees and alternates will sharpen their skills at Jackson Hole Classical Academy’s week-long summer Chess Camp taking place June 20-24, and will continue to practice and study during the summer. The camp is open to any interested K-12 players. Click here to learn more and register.

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