Saturday’s chess tournament held at Greenwood Elementary School at 93 Sharon Street captured the attention of more than 35 children, including members of the school’s chess team, as well as 10 students from Central Falls, who were invited to take part in the event.
The children competed in the five-hour, four-round tournament in two divisions, rated and unrated, with rated being children who have previously participated in United States Chess Federation Tournaments, and unrated being those who have never played in a sanctioned tournament.
No matter their rankings, the children all say playing chess has many benefits, from learning the importance of consequences to simply having a good time.
“I like the way you have to plan ahead before you make a move,” said Greenwood School third grader Samuel French 8. “You can’t just make a move and not know what you’re going to do next. Instead of being aggressive, I like to protect my pieces. I don’t go in for the attack unless I have checkmate. It would be too dangerous for me to risk my pieces.”
His fellow third graders, Kyle Pianka, 9, and Jessica Joubert, 9, feel the same.
“I learned a lot about mental strategies,” said Pianka, while Joubert added, “It helps you get smarter and smarter. You learn from your mistakes.”
For others, it’s pure pleasure.
“I love when I make a good move and win,” said fourth grader Elizabeth Barrett, 9.
First grader Glen Whitehead agrees.
“It feels good to win,” he said. “You get trophies.”
Olivia DeGaetano, 9, who’s in the third grade, said it’s “fun.”
“And you can travel to different places like Tennessee,” she said.
In fact, the children are gearing up for a three-day national tournament, which will be held in Nashville, Tenn. May 11 through the 13th. While only 10 children are planning to go, the trip is costly at nearly $450 per child, plus fees for their parents to accompany them.
Parent volunteer Bob Barrett said it’s not mandatory for children to attend, but it’s their goal to play at the national level.
Moreover, he said just being a part of the team is good for students because it strengthens their strategic, reasoning and cognition skills and gives them a realization that everything they do has an outcome.
“It’s a great after school program,” he said. “It teaches them to look beyond the immediate and look ahead. That will play out for them later in life. Plus, they love getting together and playing. It’s not just about winning and losing. There’s no violence involved and the biggest kid can play the smallest kid.”
To prepare for tournaments, instructors from Ocean State Chess Club meet with students for one two-hour session each month.
At Saturday’s tournament, all competitors earned medals, while six took home trophies. Top rated champions included first place winner Issac Torres of Central Falls; second place winner Kyle Pianka of Greenwood; and third place winner Bryan Boche of Central Falls. Top unrated victors were first place winner Achyuta Rajaram of Cranston, who is a member of the Greenwood Chess Club; second place winner Jeremy Rosario of Central Falls; and George Martinez of Central Falls.
To make a donation to help fund the national tournament, contact Greenwood Elementary School at 401-734-3290.