Once a-pawn a time: Area chess tourney tradition continues
Checkmate.With furrowed eyebrows signifying deep concentration, eighth-graders huddled in groups of three over chess boards, considering kings, pawns and, of course, devastating their opponents with a few ingenious moves. Nearly 60 middle-schoolers in sixth through eighth grade from all over Garfield County gathered for an annual chess tournament at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs Wednesday morning. It was the first round of a two-part tourney, the second half of which will be held in the spring, when the overall winner will be announced. The defending champion is Carbondale Middle School, whose chessmasters took the tourney in both 2003 and 2004, but students from Parachute, Rifle, Glenwood, New Castle and Basalt have designs on swiping that title from the wily Wolverines.
The organizers of the tourney, Glenwood Middle School teachers and chess coaches Tim Jacobs and Brad Thayer, say the kids are into the decidedly docile sport of chess because it’s all about brain power and skill. “I think it’s a great game,” Jacobs said. “It’s logical – no element of chance. Our kids, they seem to really enjoy it.”There is a trophy involved, which might have something to do with the zeal with which these kids compete. “I like putting other people in checkmate,” said Garret Brown, a Glenwood eighth-grader who won 10 games in a row against his classmates before the tournament. “I just like the sound of me winning.”In each round of the tournament, each school plays three students in each grade level, all of whom collect points for their school. The school whose students rack up the most points in both the fall and spring tourneys takes home the trophy.
It’s a tradition that’s continued for at least 11 years, Jacobs said, adding that CMC graciously opens its doors for the tourney twice each year. Walk into a classroom hosting a chess tournament and you’ll find an air of seriousness and dedication to the sport akin to an academic quiz bowl face-off. You won’t find any dramatic football tackles, slam dunks or final sprints to the finish line here, but that doesn’t matter for the kids who love the game. “It’s a strategic game,” said New Castle eighth-grader Colby Fauser. “It makes you think.”Brown, who had just lost his first match in quite some time, said he learned how to play chess from his father when he was 5 or 6 years old. He’s now 13. “Now I’m beating him,” Brown said of his dad.
Basalt eighth-grader Owen Bailey said chess is fun because it requires thinking, but it’s also about meeting new people. And, like Brown, Bailey said chess is alluring for another reason: “I like the feeling when you win.”The winning Bailey and Brown so crave will have to wait a little while. Jacobs said Wednesday he hadn’t yet set the date for the second round, but the tourney will likely continue – and a winner will be named – sometime in late April. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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