“When you see a good move, stop and look for the right one.”
This advice (paraphrasing 27-time World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker) and other words of wisdom could be heard one Friday evening in the Pleasant Hill Academy (PHA) cafetorium. Students were preparing to compete in the first annual “Pleasant Knight of Chess.”
Representatives from the Chris Collinsworth Proscan Fund (CCPF) officiated the event, setting up long tables in the gymnasium and a camera for parents and family members to watch the tournament in the cafetorium. They also provided a tournament director (TD), equipment, and volunteers to ensure the event was fair and well-run.
PHA’s chess program, made available through CCPF’s Chess in Schools program, is available to all students starting in the third grade. Since its introduction to the school four years ago, the program has proven to be a unique activity that offers important lessons for both inside and outside the classroom.
“You can really see the students’ progression,” said Tim Walker, resource coordinator at PHA. “They learn how to strategize, how to be patient, how to be confident in themselves while exhibiting sportsmanship and making new friends.”
About 40 students competed in the tournament, playing in one of two groups: primary (first through third grade) or intermediate (fourth through sixth grade). Before the start of the first round, the TD addressed players, reminding them of rules and expectations.
One task that chess players must do at tournaments is checking the pairing sheets as they are posted. The pairing sheet tells competitors what board to play at for the next round, against whom and whether they are playing black or white. Further in the tournament, the pairing sheets provide rankings, so participants can see how they are doing against other competitors.
“They’ll have to do all of this on their own at the Queen City Classic, so tonight is good practice in helping them be independent chess players,” said Walker.
The Queen City Classic is a chess tournament held in the spring, attracting nearly 700 players from seven states. Teke Vion, sixth-grader at PHA, is looking forward to playing in it again this March.
“The tournaments are difficult, but fun,” he said. “Everyone I played in the tournament last year was really good. Some of them have played for a long time, like since kindergarten, so I just try my best.”
Vion won his first tournament in the fourth grade. He takes to YouTube to find chess videos to learn new moves or keep up with some of his favorite chess players. Vion shared that when he first started chess, he didn’t care too much for it.
“I thought it was boring and took too long, but the teachers made it interesting,” he said. “When I’m older, I want to be able to play with a chess clock.”
PHA and CCPF congratulate all students who participated in the tournament, as well as those who placed in third, second and first:
• First Place – Matthew Oder
• Second Place – Ninian Wright
• Third Place – Lexuemye Ye and Taylen Black
• First Place – Elijah Edwards
• Second Place – Jaycee Moreno
• Third Place – Makai Crowell