Chess team moves toward a trophy
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 5:45 PM
By Denise James

CENTER CITY – March 31, 2009 – (WPVI) — The chess team at the Russell Byers Charter School is making all the right moves.

The team, comprised of 40 students from kindergarten through 6th grade, are on their way to play for a national championship.

“I like that it’s like kind of a war game,” said 7-year-old Elijah Jones. “And it, like, takes away your anger when you’re angry at somebody except nobody’s getting hurt.”

They won the Pennsylvania State Championship this month, and now they’re raising money to get to the nationals in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I like chess because it’s a thinking game, a strategy game,” said 6th grader Troy Perry.

Principal Salome Thomas-EL leads the team. He coached North Philadephia’s Vaux School to its 7th national chess title in the 1990’s.

Thomas-El is nurturing what he calls “intellectual capital.”

“Students who play chess have higher SAT scores, higher college acceptance scores,” Thomas-EL said. “It is a no brainer. If you have a child and you want that child to be successful, teach them to play chess.”

The cost of trip is about $30,000. The team has already some of the money, but they still need $10,000 to cover the bus and hotel costs for two dozen young chess masters.


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