In 3 hours, players all fall to the champ
MIDDLETOWN — Deepak Aaron couldn't resist an encore.
The Albany-area chess phenom had beaten all but one opponent during three years of simultaneous chess matches.
But now Aaron, 18, is studying chemical engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
"We thought last year was the last year," said Ashok Aaron, Deepak's father.
But the chance to inspire emerging chess stars — and help out charities — brought Aaron back to Middletown for a fourth time, just one day before he was to fly to Atlanta. At college, Aaron has cut chess practice from nearly five hours daily to as little as an hour. Competitions now only take place during the summer or breaks. His father admits Aaron has gotten a little rusty.
Twenty challengers hoped to capitalize on that rust Saturday.
Mid-Hudson Scholastic Chess League President Doug Stack was glad to have another shot.
"I don't count myself out yet," Stack said as the games got under way, "but I've lost to him three times before."
Jonathan Martellaro, 17, improved on his 2012 performance. His defensive strategy — to avoid taking Aaron's pieces unless forced — kept things close deep into the match.
Aaron scored his first checkmate 20 minutes in, his fifth checkmate after 34 minutes, and his 10th checkmate within 80 minutes.
Just nine foes remained two hours after the games began.
Stack's lack of pawns came back to bite him as his game wore on. Aaron pushed forward, and Stack was forced to use his king to prevent Aaron from promoting his pawns to queens after their trip across the board.
Stack read the writing on the wall and surrendered after a two hour and 45 minute game.
At Martellaro's board, Aaron was leading by a pawn and a knight. Then Aaron pressed his advantage. Checkmate, two hours and 50 minutes in.
Then, only Middletown swim coach Frank Woodward remained. Woodward, playing the black pieces, attempted to ride his counterattack to victory. The game unfolded very slowly, but Aaron gradually pulled ahead by a few pawns. Woodward kept the pawns at bay. But Aaron eventually used a knight to shepherd a pawn across the board, and Woodward had nowhere to go. "There's nothing I can do about it," said Woodward, conceding after three hours. He extended his hand to Aaron. "Great job."
But all isn't lost for those seeking another shot at Aaron.
"I hope (to come back next year)," Aaron said. "I've still got winter break."