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CHS senior Alexandra Botez is queen of the board

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Alexandra Botez, a senior at Clackamas High School, contemplates her next move at the 2012 World Chess Olympiad, played in Istanbul, Turkey.It’s been a banner year for Clackamas High School senior Alexandra Botez.

In February, the CHS chess team, of which she is a member, was named the overall first-place winner in the varsity division of the OSAA state chess championships.

Botez was named the individual state champion in the varsity division, which qualified her to compete in the national high school chess championships in Vancouver, Wash., this summer.

Then came the big one: the 2012 World Chess Olympiad from Aug. 27 to Sept. 10 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Because Botez, 17, was raised in Canada, and learned to play chess there, she played for Team Canada in the Olympiad. She was chosen as one of four women on the team, due to her high rating in the Canadian Chess Federation and her international rating, as well, she said.

This was strictly a team tournament, and Team Canada won half its games, she added.

It was a big deal for a young woman from Oregon to compete at the Olympiad, said Ed Addis, Botez’s CHS chess coach. In fact, he noted, the last time someone from the state participated in the event was in the 1930s.

This was Botez’s first trip to the World Chess Olympiad, held every two years, and for her it was an opportunity to meet players from all over the world, and to study the chess games of her idols.

Just as swimmers look up to Michael Phelps, Botez was able to see the top-10 rated chess players in the world compete, and she was able to meet the runner-up world champion.

“I was star struck to see these really good players,” she said.

Botez has traveled around the world playing chess, and noted that there is culture shock when confronted by differences in other countries, but this is helped, she said, because “we experience culture shock together as a team.”

Another advantage to attending a big international tournament is that opportunities arise to play in other events, she said, noting that she has been invited to the UNAM Chess Festival 2012, one of the largest chess festivals in the world, held in Mexico City in November.

“I will play in the Female Intercontinental Tournament that includes 18 players: six from Asia, six from Europe and six from America,” Botez said.

Young player

Botez’s parents came from Bucharest, Romania. Botez was born in Dallas, and the family moved to Vancouver, B.C., when she was 4. They moved once again to the Clackamas area when Botez entered high school at CHS.

Her father taught her to play chess when she was little, she said, and she took to the game.

“When you have success at a young age, you push yourself,” Botez said.

When she was younger, “chess was never the cool thing to do, but I truly love the game,” she added.

Since the CHS team won the state championship last year, there has been an upsurge of interest in chess.

“Although chess will never be equivalent to sports, we do put in a similar amount of time and effort. And when we have tournaments, we spend about 10 hours of the weekend,playing chess,” she said. “When people pursue chess, it is a huge time commitment and it is all mental work and exhausting,” Botez said, noting that she is pleased that the school is sponsoring a large K-12 chess tournament on Oct. 20.




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