On Aug. 1, Evanston’s Maddie Reiches placed 15th in the first U.S. Chess Federation National Girls Invitational Tournament, going up against the best high school players in the country in six matches played over four days in Madison, Wis.  She won three matches and ended another in a draw.

She earned a shot at being Illinois’ lone representative in the Nationals by winning the Illinois Girls Chess Invitational in February. Maddie then led the Evanston Township High School team downstate to a seventh-place finish out of 130 teams. In April the team went to Nashville for the U.S. Chess Federation SuperNationals, a mammoth competition that drew more than 5,000 K-12 players from across the country and had thousands of chessboards playing at a time. The ETHS girls team took 21st place.

Maddie said she has played in a lot of individual tournaments but says “it’s the most fun” playing as a team. Being ETHS chess captain this year, she said, was ”a pretty big deal.”

Maddie has been playing chess competitively since fourth grade at Washington School. She went on to compete at Haven Middle School and grew to really love the game as a team sport in high school. She says her game strengths are concentration, focus and the ability to think ahead. “It’s not just the smartest player who wins, she said, “but the person with intuition and vision, too.”

Since February she has been working to build up her strengths, intuition and vision by taking chess lessons, competing in local tournaments, playing online at chess.com and reading books on chess.

Maddie did not spend all spring focused on chess however, as she was also an ETHS senior at the time. Besides classwork, prom and other senior-year activities, she was captain and third baseman for the softball team. She was also honored with a 2013 Kiwanis Ted Van Zelst award as a top scholar-athlete.

Maddie’s favorite opening chess play is the Evans gambit, perfect for a girl from Evanston. However, soon she will head for Cleveland, where she will pursue an engineering major at Case Western Reserve University, play on the softball team and, she hopes, play some chess along the way.