By Kelly Giuliano
The chess team at Christian Brothers Academy wrapped up a historic season with a triumph at the New Jersey State Championship match.
Christian Brothers Academy’s chess team captured the state title when the event was held in early March at the Union County Vocational-Technical School in Scotch Plains.
Seniors Daniel Draganoff of Hazlet, John-Gabriel Bermudez of Wall Township, Marc Sorrentino of Monroe Township, Matt Notaro of Ocean Township and Michael Gilbride of Marlboro each achieved a victory. All five seniors from the Lincroft school have been recognized as pivotal players who have contributed to the team’s historic feats.
“This is far and away our most successful season,” said Patrick Melosh, a mathematics teacher who coaches the chess team. Melosh has coached the chess program at CBA for 20 years.
In the state finals, CBA defeated teams from High Technology High School, Lincroft; St. Joseph High School, Metuchen; Union Vocational-Technical; Sparta; and Millburn.
Melosh said each member of the varsity team was awarded individual board honors and he said this marked the first time in CBA history that all members of the competitive team had received the award.
Draganoff won the top first board honors for the state and was recognized by his coach as a key member of the program.
“Daniel has only been playing for three-and-a-half years, compared to others who have been playing since childhood. He has a 2100 rating and is recognized as an expert chess player,” Melosh said.
CBA’s website states that the goal of having a chess team is to instill a love for the game. This year there were 26 members of the chess club, ranging from freshmen to seniors, many of whom began learning the game after they entered the school.
“It is all about the satisfaction of seeing hard work pay off and most importantly watching them grow as young men from freshmen to seniors. It is not about winning, but working hard together to grow as a team to achieve goals,” Melosh said.
Before claiming the title of state champions, CBA earned its first Jersey Shore High School Chess League title in seven years. Prior to winning that crown, the team won the National Chess Congress Tournament and the New Jersey 12th Grade Championship.
With the addition of two other seniors, Kenny Skelton of Millstone Township and Brendan Fitzgerald of Middletown, CBA won the U.S. Chess Federation’s 2017 National 12th Grade Championship.
Melosh said the varsity team defeated High Tech High School in the final round of the state championship and in the Jersey Shore High School Chess League event, with vital victories achieved by Draganoff and Sorrentino.
CBA previously won the state championship in 1980, 1985, 2007 and 2015, according to a press release. The players achieved what they did through practice, patience and a love of the game, using teamwork and maximizing individual potential brought out by a continued effort to achieve a goal.
“You should find something you enjoy and take it as far as you can,” Draganoff said.