T he community room inside Tolleston Park pavilion recently was a very cool place to be — figuratively and literally. The Indiana National Guard’s Counterdrug Demand Reduction program sponsored its annual Chess Fair for youths of all ages.
“Chess has been very successful in the counterdrug program,” said Michael Goin, National Guard officer in charge of it. “It began in 2000 and has been taught throughout Northwest Indiana.”
Goin, who lives in Schererville and is a Gary native, supervised the chess competition.
“The goal is to have youths learn the game of chess while gaining knowledge on the effects legal and illegal substances can have on them and their futures,” he said. “It gives them a safe alternative on a Saturday to enjoy a drug-free environment.”
Tywan Poe, 11, patiently waited for his second chess opponent.
“I learned how to play from the vice principal of my school,” he said. “When I went home, I taught my mom what I learned so I’d have someone to play with.”
Tywan’s grandmother, Nita Stokes of Gary, attended the tournament to support her grandson.
“This is a great hobby for him, much different than checkers,” Stokes said. “This makes him concentrate more.”
East Chicago grandmother Rita Hayes watched her granddaughter, Anna Hayes, 10.
“This is marvelous, learning how to play while they are young,” Hayes said. “There aren’t a lot of tournaments like this.”
Anna learned the game at the Gary Public Library and is always looking for chances to fine-tune it.
“I want to get better,” she said, “but I’m also learning how to co-operate with others I don’t know.”
While dozens of players contemplated their next moves, others took part in outside activities.