PALMER — Ten seconds into the second round in the first-ever Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District chess tournament on Wednesday, Andrew Molnar raised his hand.
The 12-year-old Colony Middle School seventh-grader had bested his opponent in four moves.
Their game finished, the pair moved from the small Colony school gym to the commons area, where players waited for their next matches and practiced on plastic chess boards set up on lunch tables.
A few minutes later, another pair followed.
One, Jade Johnson, had written “Intimidate to Eliminate” in black marker on his green Colony Middle School chess club T-shirt.
“Did you really beat him in four moves?” he asked Molnar.
“You can do it in three but there’s only one way,” Molnar said.
Molnar turned to his humbled former opponent and said, “You want me to show you?”
“Sure,” the boy replied and the two moved toward a table.
As time ticked away in the 30-minute round, more students filtered in, munching on giant cookies, peering over shoulders to watch players tangle knights and pawns in bloodless battles.
“This is way better than being in class,” said Kyle Cooper, 13, a seventh-grader at Wasilla Middle School, as he set up a board to play a friend.
“And it’s harder (than chess club),” added David Moody, a Wasilla eighth-grader. “With friends, you learn the way they play, but with new people, you have to learn the technique.”
The boys, like most of the 95 students who attended, are members of their school’s chess club.
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