GEORGE CLARK Hattiesburg American

Area teen to compete in national chess tourney

Clay Polk came late to the chess board, but in the four years since the Hattiesburg teen first opened with a pawn, he has made up for lost time.

At the end of this month, Polk, 18, will represent Mississippi at the prestigious Denker Tournament, a contest geared toward high schoolers held in conjunction with the U.S. Open.

Only eligible state champions are invited to the Denker Tournament, which will be held in Cherry Hill, N.J. Polk placed second, but the top-ranked player, a rising ninth grader, wasn’t old enough to go – tournament rules require contestants to be high-school aged.

Polk’s interest in the game of kings was born of boredom.

“I would go to my dad’s place after school,” he said. “It was the only thing to do.”

His first opponent was his father, and in just a few weeks, Polk was regularly winning games. He recruited friends to play against, but the results weren’t always what he hoped for – to improve, it’s key to play against skilled players.

Polk found his serious competition at Java Werks, a local coffee shop where he noticed chess players in action and then in tournaments organized around the state. He also plays against a computer program, and reads books on the game to beef up his strategy.

Here is the full article.

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