Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ben Ehinger  patiently waiting for his turn.Troy Alford, winner of the JH section, works on his strategy.

Learning masterful moves at Reed Point

There was a battle in Reed Point recently, full of attacks, decoys, and blockades. Knights sacrificed themselves to protect their King and Queen.
And it was all over with two words: “check mate.”
Reed Point School District hosted its first chess tournament Feb. 4, drawing 13 students and five parents.
The “Swiss-style” tournament kept each competitor engaged during every round, and at the end of the day prizes were awarded to the top scorer in each age division.
The winner of the 2nd through 5th grade division was Emily Milligan. Troy Alford won the 6th through 9th grade division, and Tim Hamilton won the adult division. Each champion returned home with a new tournament-style chess board.
The tournament followed the creation this school year of a chess club at Reed Point schools. Advisor Adam Milligan visits the school once a week during lunchtime to share his love of chess with the students.
A typical 45-minute meeting begins with Milligan and the 12 to 15 club members playing move by move through a professional chess game that was previously contested. Students have the opportunity to anticipate and analyze moves made by the pros, while also learning important chess principles.
At the end of the meeting, members have the chance to play a game of their own, a perfect opportunity to put the principles they learn into practice.
The benefits of chess playing are numerous, from improving concentration to preventing Alzheimer’s disease, writes Michael Ciamarra for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Ciamarra is a World Chess Federation Instructor who works with the “Checkmating Alzheimer’s” program.
Chess has proven to be especially helpful for students because their brains are still developing and making new connections.
Wendi Fischer, Scholastic Director of America’s Foundation for Chess, writes for the Johns Hopkins School of Education that for young people, chess can be used as “a tool to increase higher-level thinking skills, advance math and reading skills, and build self-confidence.”
While the scholastic benefits are meaningful, Milligan believes the most important lesson chess teaches students is to think before you move. This is so important because it’s “a lesson you can take into every aspect of your life.”
Milligan is impressed with the improvement the kids have made so far, particularly regarding the three opening principles. He is looking forward to continuing the club and teaching the students more about the middle and ending phases of the game.
Due to the positive feedback about the tournament from kids and parents alike, the chess club is planning to hold more in the future.