PRINCETON TOWNSHIP — Princeton Day School fourth-grade pupil Joel Pena tied for first place in the United States Chess Federation K-12 Collegiate Nationals Championship held Dec. 7-9 in Houston.
Bonnie Waitzkin, who coordinates the PDS chess program, describes Joel as “a great competitor.”
“He loves to match wits with the best and works very, very hard to win,” said Waitzkin, whose son Josh inspired the film “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” “To be a national championship, a player needs great heart, as well as a quick mind, competitive experience and good training.”
Joel, who won fourth place at the national tournament last year, earned 6.5 out of 7 points to tie for first place among 169 fourth-graders across the country. He is coached by Jairo Moreira.
At PDS, chess is taught in kindergarten and first grade to help students develop problem-solving skills, anticipate consequences and have the flexibility to change their plans. The students practice checkmates and learn algebraic notation.
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