Check mate for children who competed at annual chess tournament
16:55, 1 JUL 2016 UPDATED 08:25, 3 JUL 2016
BY HELEDD PRITCHARD
180 youngsters from schools across the area took part
More than 180 children went head to head at a chess tournament in Merthyr Tydfil.
As part of the Chess In Schools initiative, which is held weekly in 19 schools across Merthyr Tydfil , the annual tournament took place at the Dowlais Community Centre.
This is the third year the tournament, hosted by the Stephens and George Charitable Trust, has taken place and its aim is to improve literacy standards through the game.
The participants were children from comprehensive and primary schools across the area.
Chess tutor and coordinator of the tournament Russel Doddington said: “It has a good effect on learning skills like thinking ahead, problem solving, a wide range of maths and English skills.
“It also helps to develop communication and social skills as they have to learn to take their turn.”
Chess is also said to be beneficial for children with additional learning needs.
And according to Camella Monk, a teaching assistant at Cyfarthfa High School’s special needs department, she has noticed the pupils have picked up the game quickly.
She said: “Chess isn’t particularly easy but they seem to pick it up very easily and understand the rules. And it makes them sit, makes them focus, makes them think.
“It is a game but they’re taught the etiquette of it – to shake hands whether they win or lose. And it’s teaching them to stay calm and focused for the duration of the game. It’s a calming influence.”
During the day, points were awarded to students at the end of each of their five rounds as well as to school groups.
The top ten pupils’ scores from each school were then added up to give each school’s final score and the results were announced by Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil, Councillor Margaret Davies.
She said: “I have two children. The youngest was very physical, he played rugby, football, golf, you name it.
“But my oldest was the opposite. He went to the school chess club. It really had a calming effect on him and it really helped with his school work and his whole demeanour.
“For those who enjoy it, it’s a very good thing to get involved in.”
Three students were presented with prizes for winning all five of their games – Anshul Swamy, a pupil at St Mary’s RC School, Kory Thomas, from Gwaunfarren Primary, and Kean Stubbs, of Greenfield School.
The school awards were presented to Troedyrhiw Primary School in third place, St Mary’s RC Primary in second place and taking the lead was Twynyrodyn Primary School.
Dowlais Community Centre’s new Junior Chess Club is starting from September 16 and the club will be held every Friday from 3.45pm to 5pm and costs £1 per child.
For more information, contact Dowlais Community Centre on 01685 377688.