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R-JENERATION: Playing chess more than a game for A-Tech student

Knight takes rook. Pawn takes knight. Bishop to D7. King to D8. Knight checks king. King takes pawn. Checkmate, move 13.

Cameron Patterson is finishing up his first year at Advanced Technologies Academy, but his career in the world of chess is just getting started. Patterson is the third-highest ranked chess player for high school students in the state, and the 66th overall.

By itself, that is a worthwhile pedigree for someone in ninth grade. But Patterson has only been playing since he was in sixth grade. In 2009, he competed in his first tournament, the K-8 state scholastic championship, where he placed first. In 2010, he came back to that championship and was runner-up.

Patterson said he started playing because he thought it would be interesting.

“I thought it would be pretty simple,” he said.

He then admitted there is a lot more to chess than he originally thought. He keeps playing because there’s so much theory and strategy.

“I think chess has the same sort of thinking process as math,” he said.

Just like in math you memorize formulas and theories, you memorize opening and defenses in chess. Chess is a never-ending problem.

“There’s no luck involved, it’s just you versus your opponent, and the winner is determined by who makes the better moves,” he said.

Chess ranking is determined by “rating,” a number assigned to a person based on his or her win-loss ratio, the number of moves it took to win or lose or draw, and the rating of the opponent. After Patterson’s first tournament, he had a rating of 1500. The highest rating in the world is 2830, and the lowest possible is 100. Right now, his rating is 1775. At one point, Patterson beat a person with a rating of 2100, which is expert level. Patterson said he hopes to be master rated at 2200 by the end of his junior year.

Patterson takes chess so seriously, he has hired a personal coach, Virgil Reyes, whom he works with a few hours every week.

Reyes said he hopes that if Patterson has learned one thing, it would be that attitude coupled with the correct moves wins the game.

“There’s a lot to learn in chess,” Reyes said. “The better you get, the more you need to learn.”

Patterson practices chess for a few hours every day. He spends 40 minutes watching videos and plays for an hour. He also spends his time reading up on chess and playing golf for Spring Valley High School, and is an Eagle Scout.

His father, Mike Patterson, has supported his son’s hobby by advising the chess club at A-Tech. The elder Patterson, a teacher at A-Tech, said he is proud of his son’s accomplishments.

“He can recall any move from any game and show you where the pieces were at that exact time,” he said. “It’s really cool.”

Cameron Patterson plans to continue playing chess long after high school. H is goal is to become a grand master chess player, with a rating of above 2400.

In the short term, his goal is to walk away from the Las Vegas Chess Festival on June 14-17 with two wins or more.

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