Chess programs in Hidalgo County eyeing growth
Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013 5:47 pm | Updated: 5:48 pm, Sat Jan 5, 2013.
Jacqueline Armendariz 

EDINBURG — A group of 30 youths used Saturday to hone their chess skills at practice tournament, while most of their peers likely continued to enjoy what’s left of winter break.

The competition at Robert Vela High School in Edinburg was preparation for the regional tournament next month in Los Fresnos, coordinator Jorge Treviño said.

There’s work to be done in building up chess within Hidalgo County’s different school districts, he said.

In Brownsville, the school district has made chess part of its curriculum, building a powerhouse that’s received national notice. Treviño, who also runs The War Room children’s chess club, said that’s something he wants for youths in the Upper Rio Grande Valley, but a lack of unity among schools must be overcome.

“Everybody goes to Brownsville to compete, so all the money is going to the Brownsville ISD chess program,” Treviño said. “They’re the ones, they have funding they go to all the big tournaments. And our kids in Hidalgo County, they don’t have that. Why? Because our money’s it’s all going to Brownsville.”

He said only two districts here, Edinburg and Sharyland, have chess coordinators. He said he hopes to create more local tournaments hosted by different districts.

Han Xing, a seventh grader at South Texas Preparatory Academy who is turning 13 next week, won the tournament on Saturday.

Playing since second grade, he said he’s participated in Brownsville chess competitions before.

“I think it’s awesome, but I wish they had it in Edinburg,” Xing said. “They have all these professional coaches there and stuff. It’s kind of a disadvantage to us.”

Arush Shekar, a 13-year-old eighth grader at STPA, won second place. Playing for just a year, he said he attends competitions close to home, so he hasn’t been to Brownsville.

“It’s good practice because even though it doesn’t have the stress of a real tournament, it still has kind of some sort of stress,” he said of Saturday. “So, it helps you when you go to a real tournament because you don’t feel that much pressure anymore.”

The competition Saturday was a fundraiser hosted by the 24th Leadership Edinburg Class from the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.

Class member Shea Prevost said the class chose the tournament because of the popularity of the game in the Valley.

Treviño said while chess is often lauded for its role in bolstering concentration, critical thinking and analysis, the number of players seem to dwindle among the middle school age set.

He hopes to change that too.

“It’s the sport that you pick up as a child and when you’re your grandpa’s age you can still play it just as good,” he said. “It’s a sport that you carry throughout your whole life.”
Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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