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Checkmate:  TK chess tournament is a win for students


"It's fun because it's a break from all the noisy sports. It's more of a brain game and I like strategizing," said Rogers.

Saturday was his first experience at a chess tournament and he admitted it was a little overwhelming. "But I like it a lot," he said.

His mom, Katie, was also amazed at the number of kids participating. "I think it's wonderful. I'm just amazed at how many there are here."

Chess tournament organizer Curt Wissink said this was the largest turnout they've seen since they started hosting the tourney several years ago.

"It was crazy - we had about 130 to 135 pre-registered and we had to register about 70 more this morning before we started," he said.

TK fifth graders Ashleigh Norman and twin sisters Kenzie and Zoe Linderman said they loved being in the tournament. Ashleigh proudly wore a medal she won last year around her neck.

"It's a nice calm game and I won a medal last year," said Ashleigh.

"It's really fun and everyone wins, even if you lose the game," said Kenzie. "It teaches us skills like math and thinking and how to do things like step by step.  It gives you tons of knowledge."

Zack Baughman said he liked the strategizing. "I just like playing. It's a lot of fun," said the TK fifth grader.

Third grader Jackson Armstrong was always having a fun day. "Chess is one of my favorite board games. I like it a lot," he said before starting his second game of the day.

His mom quickly found a vantage point where she could watch, without interfering. "This is his first year in the club and he really likes it a lot. I think it's wonderful and it makes him think outside the box. I think it also helps him be more patient and learn strategies. "

She said she also likes the fact they can play the game together at home and learn from each other.

The tournament drew students from 21 different schools and homeschool programs from throughout West Michigan. Other local students competing included students from Caledonia, Delton Kellogg, Pennfield, Lowell, Forest Hills, Byron Center and East Grand rapids.

Jackson Conkle, another TK third grader, said he liked chess because it is a "sophisticated board game." "I just like to play."

He said it was hard at first to learn how all the pieces moved, but he said he's getting better. He learned a lot during the TK Pawn Storm chess club meetings after school where students learned the game and practiced with other students.

His mom, Misty Conkle, admits she enjoys playing chess with her son and loved the TK tournament. "I think it's kind of a dying skill to be able to play chess. This is beautiful  - I'm so glad these kids are able to do this. I'm so impressed with all of it," said Misty.

Wissink said he and co-organizer Mike Hodges keep teaching the game because it's a fun game for students to learn and it teaches life skills.

"Students learn problem-solving, inferring, strategic thinking, patience, focus, perseverance and self-confidence to name just a few," said Wissink. "All these skills make for a better learner in school. And it's the sport you can play the rest of your life."

He said there is a lot of strategy involved in the game that makes students think while they play.

"Never underestimate our kids. They are capable of learning anything when they learn this game. They're now in an exclusive club worldwide. How many adults do you know who know how to play chess?"

Chess is one of the oldest of all board games in history. According to information from Wikipedia, the history of the game goes back almost 1,500 years originating in northern India in the sixth century and then spreading to Persia before making it's way to southern Europe. In the second half of the 19th century, modern tournament play began with the first world chess championship held in 1886.

An article written in 1779 by Benjamin Franklin tells about the benefits of chess.

"The game of chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it. By playing at chess then, we may learn:

1st, Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action ...

2nd, Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action: - the relation of the several Pieces, and their situations; 

3rd, Caution, not to make our moves too hastily....",  wrote Franklin in his article "The Morals of Chess."




Source: Sun and News