DeShawn Williams, left, makes his move as Riley Holman thinks Friday morning during a chess tournament at the Boys and Girls Club in Dothan.

Local students compete in chess tournament
By Jim Cook
Published: April 17, 2009

The usual hub-bub at the Boys and Girls club was held in check Friday by the game of chess.

The only sound that could be heard in the club’s game rooms was the clack of chess pieces being moved.

About 80 third and fourth-graders from 12 local elementary schools competed Friday in the 2nd Annual Dothan Elementary School Team Chess Championship.

Joseph McCormack, 10, a Highlands Elementary School student, won a game during Friday’s tournament.

McCormack said his key to success in chess is holding the center of the board and keeping his queen in play.

“Most of the time you need a queen, you don’t have to have it but it helps,” he said.

Event organizer Joseph Emery started volunteering as a chess teacher at Selma Street Elementary recently. Emery, who formerly played in chess tournaments, said he enjoyed teaching children how to play a game he’s enjoyed all his life.

“When you watch games and see a kid do something very bright—the look on their face when they’re doing well, when they make a good move, it lights up,” he said.

Emery said chess helps students develop skills useful to students’ academic pursuits such as memory, concentration, logical thinking, imagination and judgment.

Teresa Smith, a Faine Elementary School teacher, said she can tell a difference in students who have been participating in the school’s after hours chess program.

“I think they learn to be competitive, but with good sportsmanship,” she said.


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