Every time Marie Stutts plays chess, she searches for problems with her tiny army.
Is the king safe? Is that pawn expendable? Will her next attack lead to her downfall?
But her biggest problem with her favorite game is coming up with ways to get more people, especially youngsters, to see its benefits.
“Children who study chess have better grades, better SAT scores and better concentration,” she said. “We want people to look at it as more than just a game, but as a teaching tool.”
Stutts created the Freedom Chess Academy in 2001 with that goal in mind.
The academy is holding a chess camp for experienced players through Friday. The annual camp, now in its fourth year, aims to help players develop stronger strategies through a blend of lectures, classroom activities and one-on-one work with coaches.
The campers showed their intensity Tuesday by staying so focused on victory that they had little time for chit-chat.
Stutts said the problem-solving elements of chess have applications in real life.
“Chess teaches you the consequences of your actions,” she said. “It’s not about killing the king, but to deprive him of his freedom. You can win by walking away because you can control the king from a distance.”
Eddie Koen, who is on the academy’s board of directors and teaches at the camp, said learning chess has helped him academically.
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