U.S. Chess Championship: Scholastic Players Fill the Tables for a Day

While the championship chess players took Friday off to rest and relax, two local elementary schools’ 4th grade classes kept the competitive spirit going at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Fourth-grade students from City Academy in north St. Louis squared off against fourth graders from King of Glory Lutheran School in south St. Louis from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The King of Glory team won and was awarded a trophy.

The children were given a tour of the facility by Matt Lodge of the Chess Club, who also instructed them about tournament etiquette and how to use tournament clocks. The students not only were able to play their games at the U.S. Chess Championship competition tables on the Central West End facility’s second floor, but were allowed to view the action on the closed-circuit televisions at the Chess Club. Each child also was given an official nameplate to use at the tables.

Teacher Anthony Lemons (filling in for teacher and chess tutor Matt Virgil) accompanied five students from City Academy, while six students from King of Glory Lutheran School were joined by teacher Joel Gilbert. Chess Club scholastic director Frank Van Bree filled out the City Academy team so that each child could participate.

All of the students participate in Classroom Chess, a fourth grade through sixth grade curriculum developed by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The students participate in Classroom Chess for one hour each week for nine weeks.

“Chess can be an important tool in helping children grow academically, but it also can be a lot of fun,” said Van Bree. “It was pretty cool to watch these kids playing in their own tournament on the very site where the nation’s best players are competing for the U.S. Chess Championship, and to give them a flavor of that excitement.”

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis wants to provide that a chess curriculum can improve academic performance of students.

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July 2009