By Rachel L. WatkinsMay 15, 2009
PFC Pieta Garrett, 23, of Fort Polk, La., took the top individual spot Thursday during the four-day Inter-service Chess Tournament at the Kelley Hill Recreation Center. The tournament brought 20 service members of all branches to post for a seven-round Swiss-system tournament.
The Air Force captured the team title, and the top six players - service members from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines - will represent the United States in the NATO Chess Championship, scheduled for June 15-19 in Hammelburg, Germany.
The NATO team is comprised of two Army and two Air Force players and one sailor and Marine.
"There were a lot of tough players in the (interservice) tournament," said Garrett, a first-time competitor in the tournament who has been playing chess since elementary school. "I had to play perfect and not lose any games. I was excited I was able to do that. It feels good to win the first year I'm in the tournament and I hope I can keep it up."
Garrett won six rounds and had one draw in the third round. The win wasn't easy, he said.
"I was exhausted after the sixth round," Garrett said. "It was tough - I had to think for an hour straight. I was trying to think 10 or 15 moves down the road and I couldn't find the win. I thought another hour. And I had to come up with a completely different plan."
Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. James Adkins, Camp Lejeune, N.C., who earned a spot on the NATO team, said he looks at the chessboard as a battlefield.
"You have to be able to maneuver your pieces to the right place, not placing them in a line of fire," Adkins said. "You have to come up with a plan that is going to beat your opponent's plan and each move you make must be planned - there are no random moves in the game of chess."
It could have been anyone's win, said third-place winner SPC Jose Silva, who is stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.
"You might be winning a whole four hours and you make one mistake and all of your work is undone," he said.
The Air Force finished with 26 points, while the Army scored 22. The Navy took third with 15.5 points while the Marines totaled 6.5.
The competitors closed the event with a round-robin blitz tournament Friday. Pieta took first, Silva took second and Tech. Sgt. Jason Mueller of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., wound up third.
The NATO team consists of Pieta; Silva; Adkins; Mueller; Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathaniel Ola, who's stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Barquin of the USS Ronald Reagan.
Interservice Chess Tournament results
First place - PFC Pieta Garrett - six wins, one draw
Second place -Tech. Sgt. Jason Mueller - five wins, two draws
Third place - SPC Jose Silva - four wins, three draws
First place - Air Force - 26
Second place - Army - 22
Third place - Navy - 15.5
Fourth place - Marine Corps - 6.5
First place: PFC Pieta Garrett
Second place: SPC Jose Silva
Third place: Tech. Sgt. Jason Mueller