MLK Day chess tournament, a 20-year tradition, draws 150 students to Kingston school
By Ariel Zangla, Daily Freeman
POSTED: 01/20/14, 2:47 PM EST | UPDATED: 15 SECS AGO
KINGSTON >> Connor McKenna of West Hurley used a ladder move to force his opponent into checkmate during a chess game Monday morning.
The fourth-grader at St. Joseph’s School in Uptown Kingston then solemnly shook hands with his opponent and told him, “Good game.”
Connor was one of about 150 youths participating in the 20th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Chess Tournament at St. Joseph’s. The event drew participants from as far away as East Hartford, Conn., Brooklyn and Albany, coordinator Karen Merker said.
Merker said the players were divided between those who were playing for ratings in the U.S. Chess Federation and those who were playing just for fun. The ones playing for fun were grouped by age for their match-ups. Also, a chess coach was also playing up to 18 games simultaneously as part of a fundraiser for the school’s chess club, the Mighty Pawns.
“I think chess is a great game because it teaches patience and concentration,” Merker said. She said chess also teaches players personal responsibility because they cannot blame anyone else for the moves they make. It also is a game that can be played for life, Merker said.
Merker, a science teacher at St. Joseph’s, said the tournament is held on Martin Luther King Day because it does not matter if you are black or white — anyone can play chess.
At St. Joseph’s, 68 of the 250 students participate in the Mighty Pawns chess club, Merker said. She said the club includes students in grades kindergarten through eight who are beginner, intermediate or advanced players. Merker teaches the beginner and intermediate students and brings in a coach, David Aldi, from Connecticut to teach the advanced players.
“They get good fast,” Merker said.
She said her students will compete in state championships in Saratoga Springs later this year.