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Searching for the next Bobby Fischer

Dale Thompson

Parley’s Park Elementary students are adding words like castling and wind-milling to their vocabulary.

After parents began requesting an opportunity for their students to learn chess, PTA member Renee Weidman coordinated the Parley’s Park Elementary Chess Club.

Initially, she was going to ask her husband to run the club because he is a fan of the game. However after doing some research online Weidman came across a better alternative.

The program is run by Schoolhouse Chess, an organization that gives students a foundation for playing chess. They present the program at a school assembly and send the children home with fliers so the students can decide if they want to participate.

Weidman said after seeing the assembly her own children were excited about the game, "I remember my kids couldn’t wait to play."

The employees of Schoolhouse Chess use pneumonic devices to help children remember the rules. For example they tell them two kings are fighting over a million dollar check, to win you have to get it back.

They met once a week for an hour and a half during the month of January and the program is offered every other year. Weidman mentioned they might change that because parents have been asking for more frequent lessons.

Schoolhouse Chess brings chess boards for all of the students and goes through games with them on a large vertical board with paper pieces. They also spend a lot of time playing other students at similar skill levels.

"They’re teaching them strategy," Weidman said. "The kids love it, it’s always been a great turnout."

Devon Gregory, a fourth grader, says he loves to play chess and is learning a lot as part of the Chess Club.

"We’re learning about capturing the guys, castling, and wind- milling," he said

Christian Lambert likes getting his opponent in check.

"I like winning the game and having fun," he said. Lambert also likes to play chess at home with his family.

Taquin Crug, a third grader gets frustrated when somebody younger takes one of his pieces, but notes he doesn’t mind it when it’s the other way around.

"It just feels good when you capture a piece," he said.

Madeline Keene, a fifth grader, is in the more advanced class and has learned how to check-mate an opponent in four moves.

"I like how your mind works with the strategy," she said.

Keene said the class runs a bit long, but she loves playing the game. Sometimes it doesn’t always go well though.

"It gets frustrating when your opponent gets you in a tough spot," she said.

Keene occasionally plays with people who aren’t enthused about the game.

"Sometimes people aren’t always paying attention to the board," she said.

Reilly Falter, a third grader, has learned that it’s important to watch what the opponent is doing.

"If you don’t look at the board then something bad is going to happen," she said.

Falter likes the club because it broadens her horizons.

"You get to learn moves you’ve never heard of before," she said.

For Zane Dekoff, a third grader, the chess club is an opportunity to make friends.

"I like it because you get to meet a few new kids," he said.


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