Chess gives teen all the right moves
Greensburg Salem High School sophomore Vinnie DeFazio, 16, began honing the skills back in kindergarten.
And then it came down to one game.
And he was fierce.
DeFazio won first place in the Under 800 division of the Pennsylvania State Chess Tournament held in Carlisle March 10-11.
And while he was at it, he won sixth place in a four-way tie out of 140 participants in the ultra-competitive 7-12 U1000 Division.
And to think one of the first honors he claimed was the chess champion record at Hutchinson Elementary School, along with first place in the unrated division in 2006.
DeFazio had a 776 score and then jumped 200 points to compete in the U1000 Division.
This win was special for DeFazio because he hadn't won the tournament since the fourth grade. Back then, he worked with a coach. This time he coached himself. Since none of his family or friends play, he went online to “try out different moves and stuff.”
Turns out he had the right stuff.
“Chess makes you think outside the box ... you can't predict what's going to happen next,” DeFazio said. “I love that part about it.”
He began playing in kindergarten, following in his two older brothers' footsteps.
They grew out of it. He didn't.
Hockey coach Jason Detesta said that DeFazio's skills translate from the chessboard over to the ice.
“He envisions three or more moves ahead,” said Detesta of Mt. Pleasant. “He's able to think three or more steps in advance on the ice in order to make a play. The processes and strategies he's learned in chess make him a great leader on the ice for us.”
Even in kindergarten, DeFazio won the international division at Hutchinson Elementary School because, he said, it just came easily. He continued to win tournaments in third, fourth and fifth grades.
He said that, although chess is not a team sport, it enables him to reach out to people he wouldn't normally talk to.
“It brings out the best in me when I'm playing,” he said.
He said his chess skills benefit him in other areas of his life — like when he's playing hockey, baseball and dekhockey.
It also helped on his path to become a Life Scout who is one badge away from reaching the top as an Eagle Scout.
DeFazio is motivated to excel and “he gives it 1,000 percent,” reported his mother, Charlene DeFazio. “He doesn't stop until he gets there.”
DeFazio said he does not get to play chess as often as he'd like so he hopes to organize a chess club as his senior project and “just play.”
The game “teaches me to always believe in myself and that anything is possible,” he said. “It was really nice this year to be rewarded for all of the hard work that I put into it.”
Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Charity walk at Twin Lakes Park seeking corporate sponsors
- Southwest Greensburg to review permit parking request
- South Greensburg residents can use cards to pay fees for trash, rentals, permits
- Pitt-Greensburg grads document health initiative in Honduras