Youngsters take chess seriously
Coach: Game teaches life skills
Posted: February 9, 2013 – 10:11pm

By Carolyn Kaberline

It was quieter in the Topeka Collegiate gym than one would expect with 129 students from kindergarten to high school seniors present. 

Although most of those in attendance — both competitors and coaches — were from the Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City areas, some came from as far away as Onaga, Erie and Galesburg. 

The competition on Feb. 2 required no basketballs or athletic equipment. Only clocks, chessboards and chess pieces were required for the Kansas Scholastic Chess Association competition hosted by the school.

At a KSCA tournament, players typically play in six rounds using the Swiss system, said Davis McCoy, Topeka Collegiate tournament manager. “The Swiss system pairs students with similar win-loss records,” McCoy said. “The idea is that no matter how large the range of ability of the players in a given section, each player will be as evenly matched as possible.”

McCoy said with four divisions for students to enter — K-3, K-5, K-8 and K-12 — most students play in the section that best fits their grade level.

“Every now and then, there will be a young chess player who is able to play competitively with students that are much older,” he said. “Like many competitive activities, if your competition is not challenging you, you run the risk of having your development stagnate. For strong, young chess players, there’s no reason that they can’t play against older competitors.”

Eleven-year-old Jack Easton, of Manhattan, usually competes in a higher bracket than the K-8 division that corresponds to his sixth-grade academic level.

“He found chess about two years ago,” said his mother, Kelly Easton. “My kids are home-schooled, and he got to take two electives when he was in fourth grade. He selected chess for one of them.”

While she could teach him how the pieces moved and her husband was “a decent player,” she said it wasn’t long before Jack was beating them.

“We took him to his first match in Kansas City, where he did quite well,” Easton said. 

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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