Game for the ages: Chess gains momentum in McKinney ISD schools

By Chris Beattie
Published: Saturday, March 12, 2011 4:35 AM CST

Chess is often thought of as the forgotten game, the one that older people play every afternoon in the park. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth to McKinney elementary school students.There are 52 members of the chess club at Walker Elementary School.

The club has only been around since December.”I had no idea we’d have so many kids wanting to play chess,” said Susan Berger, one of two chess coaches at the school. “We have kids from every grade level playing.”

Despite its club’s rapid growth, Walker Elementary is actually a newcomer to a trend that’s permeating McKinney ISD. Finch, Webb and Glen Oaks elementary schools are just a few that have already played in district-wide chess tournaments.

The next tournament is Tuesday, March 29, at Webb Elementary. The organization Communities in Schools will sponsor the tournament, which will feature players from Webb, Glen Oaks and Walker. The tournaments are just a small piece of a trend sweeping elementary schools around the country.

The National Elementary Chess Championship is the first weekend in May.

Most McKinney ISD chess clubs meet once a week for about an hour before or after school. Club members at Walker meet from 3-4 p.m. every Monday. Finch Elementary club members spend their recess time playing chess.

Michael Berry, chess coach at Finch, said the game teaches the students lessons and values more important than good sportsmanship.

“Chess teaches these kids critical thinking skills,” Berry said. “It’s about looking ahead and making the best decisions that will help in the future. Those are things they can apply in other parts of their lives.”

Berry is seeing firsthand how an old-school game is becoming the new thing in town. He plays chess at the McKinney Senior Recreation Center (MSRC) every Friday afternoon, tweaking the assumption that senior citizens only play in parks. He wanted to show the students that chess is a game that permeates all ages.

Full article here.

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