Sunday, November 16, 2003

Chess Tournament

I spent yesterday afternoon with a few of our girls at the Chess-in-the-Schools Girls' Chess Tournament. Our kids get two hours of chess class every week for half the year, one hour taught by a Chess-in-the-Schools instructor, the other hour by one of our teachers. About 15 kids also participate in afterschool Chess with the CitS instructor, and we send a group to tournaments a couple times each month.

The girls' tournaments happen twice a year and are designed to bring more girls actively into the program. Although I have never been to a regular tournament, from my understanding the girls are a minority at the tournaments, and the girls' tournaments are much smaller than the regular tournaments.

Each student plays four games during a tournament, and they earn points for wins, draws, and stalemates. They all start out unranked, but if they win 3 out of 4 games in one tournament, they become Novice players. I know the basic rules of chess, but I've learned not to play the kids once they make Novice, or I lose to strategies like the "four move checkmate!"

Our girls did pretty well - a couple made novice, one 6th grader won all four of her games and with that, won the unranked first place trophy. Since this is only our second year in the program, we're still just starting to build a program. Hopefully, we can develop a fun and competitive team! The kids are already excited about earning enough Grand Prix points to get a trip to Arizona for the National tournament. That would be such an opportunity for them!

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