Kamas Chess Club believes the game benefits all ages | ParkRecord.com

Kamas Chess Club believes the game benefits all ages

The Kamas Chess club meets twice a month at the Summit County Library Kamas Branch. All ages are welcome. (Courtesy of the Summit County Library)

People who play chess don’t consider it just a game. They look at is as a life-skill learning tool, according to Loralie Pearce, organizer of the Kamas Chess Club.

"Chess helps people of all ages hone their math, planning and problem solving," Pearce told The Park Record. "When you play, you’re thinking at least three moves ahead and it takes some thinking to do. You have to put some thought into it and it will take a while to play a good game."

The Kamas Chess Club meets twice a month for one hour at the Summit County Library, Kamas Branch. The next meetings will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13, and Wednesday, Jan. 27.

"Anyone is welcome and people of all ages from the area — Kamas, Marion, Peoa, Coalville, Heber, Park City — who are interested in playing chess can come join the club," Pearce said. "There is no sign-up sheet and it’s free. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t come when we started the club back in October, because we have some who come sporadically and we have some who are pretty consistent in attending."

The club has two goals, Pearce said.

"We want to help those who already know how to play chess to improve their games, learn new strategies and, perhaps, participate in local Scholastic tournaments," she said. "The other goal is to teach those who don’t know how to play and progress."

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The idea for the Kamas Chess Club originated with Pearce’s son, Landon, who is home-schooled.

"He was six years old, he asked me how to play," Pearce said. "While I know the basics, I really didn’t know what he wanted to learn."

That’s when Landon asked the South Summit High School chess coach for lessons.

"I used to teach the after-school theater program at the high school and took Landon with me, and he went, on his own, to the coach and asked if he could play with the group," Pearce said. "The high school team was so nice to him and sat down to teach him and they also took him to his first tournament and that’s how he got started."

Since then, Landon wanted to play more, so Pearce began asking around to see if there was any interest.

"We started to find that there were many people who were elementary and junior high ages who wanted to play," she said. "While the high school has a small chess club, the elementary and middle schools did not."

Pearce approached the Kamas Branch library last year to start up a club but the logistics prevented it from taking off.

"This year was better, and the library reached out and asked if we would still be willing to start up the club," she said.

During the first meetings, Pearce asked the participants what they wanted to gain from the club and built a program around their wishes.

"Our first meeting of the year on Jan. 13, will be a learning meeting and we will teach the fundamentals of chess and what piece represents," Pearce said. "Also, those who have been playing will be taught the newcomers different strategies, including opening moves."

The next meeting on Jan. 27 will become a mini chess tournament.

"We’ll draw the names from the hat and they’ll get to play with each other and apply what they learned," Pearce said.

The club runs from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to give the elementary school students time to get to the library after school.

"If we find there are more people who are coming from Coalville, Heber or Park City, we will change the time to accommodate their school schedules," Pearce said.

Although the club does have an abundance of younger students involved, adults are welcome to attend as well.

"We’ve had adults come and that’s been nice, because they usually know how to play and are willing to help and teach the kids who want to learn a little more," Pearce said. "Also, we have some of the older kids who are good players and they also want to teach the kids who don’t know how to play."

Pearce is planning to host a Scholastic chess tournament in March.

"This will be an official tournament where we will score the games and the winners will place, rank and win trophies," she said. "I hosted one last year and it was successful. We had 64 kids from all over attend and it was really fun."

In the past few months, Pearce has seen the benefits of chess and how they have affected the club members.

"Chess helps the kids learn good sportsmanship because everyone can win a game," she said. "When a player puts their opponent in checkmate, the opponent has to analyze and concede. And at the end of a game, we also encourage them to stand up, shake hands and say, ‘That was a good game.’ And also, by losing a match, they will hopefully learn from that and improve their strategy."

She has also seen a growth in socializing.

"While chess is not always a team sport, these players are interacting with each other and sharing their strategies," she said. "I also know in the Scholastic tournaments, the points everybody earns goes towards a school total. So, it’s both an individual sport as well as a group sport."

The club uses an array of chessboards and pieces during the sessions.

"The library has a couple of chess sets and some of the participants bring theirs, but we are looking for donations as well," Pearce said.

The Kamas Chess Club will met on Wednesday, Jan. 13, and Wednesday Jan. 27, at the Summit County Library Kamas Branch, 110 N. Main St., from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Attendance is free and open to the public. To donate a chess set to the Kamas Chess Club or for more information, call 435-783-3190 or visit www1.youseemore.com/SummitCounty.