West Branch teen ranked among top chess players
By LEONARD GLENN CRIST, Salem News staff writer

BELOIT — Dominique Bortmas has the competitive drive of a varsity quarterback but uses brain power instead of muscles to excel in her game of choice.

A 17-year-old senior at West Branch High School, Bortmas is ranked among the top ten female teenage chess players in the state.

“I hate being wrong and losing at anything,” Bortmas said in a recent interview.

The West Branch Local Board of Education honored her last month for being ranked eighth in the state. Strong showings at a tournament earlier this month in Akron and one Saturday in Canton will likely push that ranking higher, said Rodger Sharp, coach of the West Branch High School chess team.

Bortmas’ competitiveness parallels that of Sharp’s. A former football player and self-described jock, Sharp said he turned to chess to “fill the void of not being able to compete.” Sharp plays competitive chess and describes his talent as “respectable but not great.”

He said players have to devote a large portion of their lives to reach the upper levels of chess.

“If you’re not a competitive person, you really won’t do very well at it because it takes a lot of time,” Sharp said.

Bortmas started playing chess five years ago. No one in her family plays chess, so she taught herself the basics by playing the game on her computer. Then she joined a chess club in middle school.

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