ROXBURY TWP. In mid-May, 20 members of the Roxbury Scholastic Chess Club/Team, the “Knight-Eagles”, based in the Eisenhower Middle School, traveled to the Mohawk Country Club boardwalk in Sparta, New Jersey, where they were successful capturing First Place against a field of 47 other chess teams at the Northwest New Jersey K through 8 Chess Championship, an outdoor event. The Sparta team, defending champions for the past five years in a row, hosted the competition. After all four rounds of one-hour matches concluded, Roxbury and Sparta were tied for first place. “Usually, an automatic tie breaker is built into the computer system that looks at the schedule strength of each participating student and awards the higher ranking to the team that played the stronger opponents during the tournament. However this year, for the first time, the computer had both teams dead-locked in a tie,” said Jeffrey Mittag, Chess Team Coach for EMS. “The Sparta coach suggested a flip of a coin to decide the champion as he thought the Roxbury team bus was waiting to take the students home.”
Mittag informed Sparta that the team bus would not arrive for another hour. When the students from both teams heard this, they started chanting, “Play-off, Play-off, and Play-off.” Before long, everyone on the entire boardwalk joined in chanting, so it was decided that four students from each team would compete head-to-head in 20-minute matches to decide the champion. But this ended in a 2 – 2 tie again, so the same four students matched off a second time in another 20-minute match. This time, two of Roxbury’s players won their match, and one of Sparta’s player’s won his match, so it came down to a struggle between the top two students in the tournament. The May 19 game ended in a tie with just nine seconds remaining in the match, giving Roxbury the win by a final score of 2 ½ to 1 ½.