Showing children the beauty of chess
As interest declines in Iowa, coach brings passion

October 5, 2006

Ben Munson’s eyes squint at the chess board. He wears a T-shirt from West Des Moines’ Fairmeadows Elementary School chess club: “Behold The Power of Chess,” it reads.

Nearby, eight boys do battle on the chess board in the weekly practice session for young chess aficionados in West Des Moines. In a flurry, Munson’s hands dash across the board. Two high school boys follow as Munson talks through this hypothetical game.

“You guys – you seen this position?” the 61-year-old chess coach asks. “How does white win this game in three moves?

“They talk it out until the boys figure how the game is best won. “That,” Munson said, “is beautiful.”

Rare is the teenager who sees the beauty in a shrewd chess move. But under the tutelage of Munson’s watchful eye, these boys see it.

“There are many artistic things happening on a chess board,” said Munson, who has taught chess to youths for 40 years. “There are lots of checkmates I think are pretty, that are beautiful. You have to be good enough of a chess player to appreciate that sort of thing.”

But to spend more than half your life teaching chess, you need to be more than just a great player.

You also have to have a pretty powerful motivation for teaching a sport to kids whose attentions are often distracted by other extracurricular activities.

And Munson’s passion for teaching this game goes back to his own youth….

The rest of this wonderful story can be read here. Posted by Picasa

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar