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Education Features

First diocesan chess tournament welcomes 50 competitors


Over 50 Catholic elementary school students from eight Diocese of Buffalo Catholic schools gathered on Saturday, Feb. 4, to conclude Catholic Schools Week with the first Diocesan Chess Championship. After an opening round to sort, the bracket of 16 played five rounds to crown a champion. Seventh grader Sebastian Schmitt of St. Christopher emerged as the winner after defeating fellow seventh grader Charles Schoelkopf from St. Mark’s in a tight match.

Seventh grader Sebastian Schmitt of St. Christopher School in Tonawanda receives the Chess Champ trophy from Dr. Tim Uhl, secretary of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Buffalo. (Photo courtesy of the Catholic Schools Department)

The two burgeoning chess players drew their first game when both players had only their kings and a pawn left. In the second game, Schmitt came out victorious. The entire tournament lasted three hours at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute in Kenmore, who was the host of the festivities. Joseph Spillman, a fifth grader from St. John’s in Kenmore, and Dylan Lamont, an eighth grader from DeSales Catholic School in Lockport, were the other two semifinalists.

St. Stephen’s on Grand Island was well-represented with the most chess players—as well as their excellent coach, Dominic Buttino, who helped organize the bracket play. Other schools included Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls, Christ the King in Snyder, and St. John Vianney in Orchard Park. The chess tournament was organized by Laurie Wojtaszyk from the Department of Catholic Schools.

The tournament capped off Catholic Schools Week which started on Sunday, Jan. 29, with Masses celebrated in Catholic churches across the diocese, including one by Bishop Michael W. Fisher at Nativity of our Lord Parish in Orchard Park. Bishop Fisher was able to visit St. Joseph University School and Catholic Academy of West Buffalo on Wednesday, and celebrate Mass and tour St. Stephen’s on Thursday. The diocesan secretary of education, Dr. Tim Uhl, and the rest of his staff were able to visit 15 other Catholic schools during the week, which also included the crowning of the first diocesan spelling bee champion on Monday, Jan. 30.

St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Kenmore hosted the diocese’s largest chess match. (Photo courtesy of the Catholic Schools Department)

The chess tournament and spelling bee are part of the Department of Catholic Schools’ efforts to increase opportunities for diocesan Catholic school students. The next event will be the spring science fair, another new addition to Catholic school activities.


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