Chess whiz making right moves
Posted: Nov. 10, 2007

For someone with nerves of steel, a fire in his belly and the ability to perceive what is not yet there, 11-year-old Brian Dennis seems remarkably like any other fun-loving kid.

As a matter of fact, it is those characteristics that make him such a whiz at chess. But it is the enjoyment of the game that keeps him playing.

“It’s fun, and it’s not (about) luck like most other board games,” said Brian, a sixth-grader who had just wrapped up another practice with his teammates from Hamilton High School. He works at it.

Chess coach Tim Moeller, who invited Brian to join the team after he watched him play and win school tournaments at Lannon Elementary School for several years, paid him a high compliment.

“No one’s going to want to play this kid by the time he’s a senior in high school,” he said. Brian’s that good already, and more importantly, getting better all the time.

Since there are no age limits for high school team members in the Scenic Moraine Chess Association, made up of eight public and two private high schools in the region, the Hamilton team includes three Templeton Middle School students – a sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grader – among its 16 members. Brian is the youngest.

“If you can reach the board, you can play,” said Moeller, a chemistry and physics teacher and engineer.

Brian doesn’t just reach the board. He stands tall.

Chess has filled some of the gap left over the past year while his mother, Capt. Pamela Dennis, a Naval Reserve nurse, was called to active duty overseas, said his dad, also named Brian Dennis.

She spent her tour in Landstuhl, Germany, where soldiers injured in the Middle East war zone were sent and assessed for either a return to duty or treatment back in the United States.

News that she had to leave in October 2006 made him sad and scared, her son said. But on this Veterans Day, Brian and his younger sister, Brianna, 9, have their mom back.

She finished her stint and returned to the U.S. last week. She was expected home last night

In the meantime he’s had to step up around their Sussex house, watching his younger sister and helping with household chores.

At the same time, he’s driven himself to excel in chess and has kept his mom up to date through her daily phone calls and conversations by Web camera.

She was able to surprise him with a visit last May in Nashville, Tenn., when he made his first appearance in the U.S. Chess Federation’s national tournament.

He still kept his focus enough to come away with a third place finish.

He won six of seven games and tied one, so a computer that gave weight to wins based on the toughness of opponents settled the tiebreakers and gave Brian a third-place finish among 394 elementary school players.

Brian also competes in the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation, which coordinates chess tournaments at schools in the state.

He was last year’s fifth-grade champion at the state tournament.

This season, just under way, he’s taken second place at several tournaments.

Here is the full story.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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