Help Me Put Vermont on the National Chess Map!

I'm the guy in the neon green shirt (hard to miss!) with a big smile on my face because I've just won the high school section of the 2019 Vermont State Scholastic Chess Championship!

My dad taught me how to play chess when I was 5. We spent a lot of time playing together in our local Jericho cafe but even after reading How to Beat Your Dad at Chess, I still couldn't beat him. At the time, it seemed kind of harsh that he wouldn't let me win but now I'm grateful that he taught me that I had to work for what I want.

I continued to play chess casually in elementary school. Here's a picture of me playing with one of my favorite teachers, Garin Samuelson. (What's with the green shirt again?)

By middle school I'd stopped playing chess and was struggling with school. When I re-discovered chess in 10th grade, I found an ability to focus that had eluded me. I joined the Chittenden County Chess Club, where I found a community of supportive chess enthusiasts who helped me learn and grow as a chess player. I'll never forget my first game there. I, someone who had never played chess at a tournament level, was matched against the current Vermont State Chess Champion! When he crushed me I realized how much I had to learn.  Months later, after many painful but instructive defeats, I experienced my first taste of victory against a strong player. I was completely hooked!

I attended my first tournament in April 2017, the Vermont State Scholastic Championship. I was incredibly anxious but managed to finish in 11th place. That started me working hard to improve my game (and conquer my nerves), studying,  and traveling to play in tournaments wherever I could. I'm proud that I've become one of the highest rated high school players to ever represent Vermont at the National Championship.

I've also discovered that I love teaching chess and hope to develop a career as a chess teacher.  Here I am having fun teaching students at C.P. Smith elementary school.

I'm passionate about helping kids discover chess as a way to boost their self confidence, perseverance, and focus, especially for those shy kids who, like me, sometimes have a hard time finding their place in school. 

In the meantime, I'm excited that as the Vermont High School Chess Champion, I have the opportunity to represent Vermont at the National Denker Tournament of High School Champions, which will be held in Orlando, Florida in August.  Unfortunately, our small state does not have any funds to support this trip, so I'm reaching out for donations to help with the travel and hotel costs.  

I'll be grateful for any amount that can help me get to Orlando, play my hardest, and make Vermont proud! 

And if you donate, I'd be happy to arrange a friendly game with you.

For more information about Vermont Scholastic Chess: 

For more information about the Denker Tournament of High School Champions:

Here's me playing my dad. Now I can actually beat him! :) 

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Sasha Kagle
Jericho, VT

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