Chess club doing well in fourth year 

December 6, 2012 

By Michael Mee News-Aegis

Thu Dec 06, 2012, 11:54 AM CSTThe St. Clair NewsSt. Clair County — There’s a saying that goes: “Give a child a toy and they’ll play for a day, teach a child chess and they’ll play for a lifetime.”

For the past four years, Country Knights has been a growing club aimed at teaching young people the skills and comaraderie that comes along with playing the game.

Recently the club became a 501-C3 non-profit, which opens the door for any individuals or business to help and be able to help it grow.

“The goal is that any child who can play chess in St. Clair County can do so for free,” Pino said. The normal season runs from September though March.

Pino goes to schools and works with kids, but also receives and teaches homeschooled kids in every Saturday. That meeting is for the actual Country Knight’s Chess Club, Inc.

“I have two that are just awesome,” Pino, who learned to play chess in his native Cuba, said. “I’m trying to open it up so that every child, whether it be public or private or homeschooled all take part at Country Knights.”

Country Knights has made recent strides towards that end.

In November the club hosted an event at Moody High School in conjunction with Just Kids Nations that brought in players form Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana.

“Several local businesses helped put it together,” said Country Knights’ Chess Coach Pedro Pino. “So many are helping us get involved in some aspect. They help us by helping us getting chess related prizes for the winners and they get something out of it by sponsoring the program.”

Pino said his goal for the local businesses is to get them involved so that he can go teach at area schools at no charge to the parents. Currently parents do pay a fee for Country Knights. Half of that fee includes a membership to the United State Chess Federation and the Alabama Chess Federation, allowing for them to be tracked in tournaments they play in along with receiving several subscriptions, both in print and online and lessons from chess.

The Club’s big fundraiser for the rest of the season is to try to raise money for scholarships.

Pino said he is just now getting into Moody schools and the first team with K—12 students. “I cannot thank Ms. [Cheryl] Kuyk for opening the doors to let us have the tournament and helping us get things together through the use of Moody High School and look forward to opening the minds of the young people in those schools. Any child that attends the Moody school system can take part in Moody Blue Knights, which will meet separately because of lessons at different schools, but they will all compete together.”

The Moody outreach is the first time Pino said he will be able to teach junior high and high school. “Those are the hardest kids to reach, they’re going though so much in their life at that time.”

The push will be to give a scholarship to a senior who will further their education. “It will be a first for us. I’ve had this dream form the beginning, and this will be the first time to do that. That’s where I would like for the businesses to come on board to; help with that.”For more information visit or call 205-629-2909.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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