Hundreds of young chessboard pugilists tested their skills at the 2012 Superstates Scholastic State Championship chess tournament held Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.
“This is a huge event,” California Youth Chess League director Jay Stallings said. “The students are excited to meet the challenge of facing some of the top teams in the nation right here in Santa Clarita.”
The tournament was open to chess club members in kindergarten to eighth grade. The matches took place in the hotel’s ballroom, where more than 500 players sat at narrow tables throughout the day, all vying for a checkmate.
Some of the youngest contestants stood during the match to better eye-ball the 64-box checkered board or to tap the chess clock.
Two West Creek Academy chess club members were among the contestants.
“I like playing chess because two people are in charge of an army,” Alex Mosser, 11, said. “It’s basically like waging peaceful war.”
Mosser’s classmate Andrew Sung, 8, agreed.
“Winning a game is sweet revenge,” Sung said. “Chess opens a new part of your brain.It helps with your thinking.”
Stallings and his wife, Michelle, founded the league in 1996. Since then, Stallings has taught chess to more than 20,000 Santa Clarita Valley residents at 18 local schools, he said.
“It’s rewarding for us to see our students grow as people, not just as chess players,” Stallings said.
“We have had dozens of former students work for (the league) as coaches to help pay their way through college. And I can’t even guess how many of our student’s college applications have mentioned competing at state and national championships among their accomplishments.”
In April, the Hart team will travel to Minneapolis to compete at the Spring Nationals, Stallings said.
Stallings, a renowned chess player, ranked third best chess champion in the U.S. in 1977.
West Creek Academy is part of the Saugus School District.
For more information, visit www.uscess.org.