“Chess helps the brain look for multiple options when analyzing a position or solving a puzzle to find the best outcome.”
The crowd is silent. Only the sound of the pieces hitting the table and the clock can be heard. Both players thoroughly plan out each move to ensure maximum benefit and strategic position. As the game progresses, the board begins to take shape. The battle of wits continues on until the game’s end is in sight. Finally, a player announces, “Checkmate.”
The high school Chess Club was first formed three years ago and merged with the middle school club, while the elementary team was established eight years ago. Since the clubs were founded, The King’s Academy has given students the opportunity to learn important skills and advance their chess game.
“I think it helps you focus,” said 6th grader Andrew Klinger. “I’ve also met new people from other schools that play in the tournaments. I love just playing it for fun, but I’m planning to play until my senior year and maybe even in college.”
The club is divided into two groups: Elementary and grades 6-12. The chess team has the unique advantage of having middle school players practice with the high school team.
“Middle schoolers practice with students who may be much stronger and/or have a very different approach,” said club sponsor Cheryl Richard. “This helps them learn more strategies and see moves they may have never seen before. It also gives the entire TKA club a larger pool of opponents, which is actually more representative of what we find at competitions.”
This unique advantage proves to be extremely beneficial in state and regional competitions. By maintaining a winning record during regional tournaments and staying within the top four rankings, the chess teams are able to advance to the state championship. In the most recent regional competition, both middle school teams advanced to state, with one of the teams winning first place.
“I like chess a lot, so learning at a higher level helps me get better,” said 8th grader Nathan Beck. “I enjoy practicing with high schoolers because it gives me harder opponents. It also helps me with preparing for tournaments and gives me an idea of what to expect from my opponents.”
The middle school and high school chess clubs meet for a period of 12 weeks starting in the fall. During this period club practices are held every Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m. The teams use this time to prepare for the GAPPS tournaments held Jan. 23 and Feb. 3.
“Chess teaches strategy, sportsmanship, analysis and critical thinking in a fun way,” said Mrs. Richard. “These are important life skills. In a simplified way, chess helps the brain look for multiple options when analyzing a position or solving a puzzle to find the best outcome. This develops an impulse to improve and learn from mistakes, all while having fun and enjoying a challenge.”