Paynesville students enjoy chess club

This article submitted by Stephanie Everson on 2/11/97.

Every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., members of the high school chess club meet in room 128 to challenge each other in a game of chess. There are around eight chess boards set on tables around the room, and usually 17-20 kids, mostly between fifth and 12th grade, sit around them concentrating on their next move.

Each week they have a tournament. The kidís names are written on a tagboard with the heading ďKings". Everyone is paired off, and the loser in each bracket goes to the ďQueens" catagory, and in turn, the losers from that category go to the ďRooks". When everyone has played, each category has a champion. Each game lasts around 10-15 minutes.

Another fun activity members of the chess club enjoyed was building chess piece snow sculptures in the high school courtyard.

Mr. Jay Thompson, physics, physical science, and principles of technology teacher, started the chess club three years ago, with the aim of learning basic strategies. Now, they often play against chess clubs from other towns. There are no membership fees and Thompson said anyone whoís interested in chess is welcome to join them. Even if you donít know how to play, you can learn from watching the others. Thompson helps the kids learn different strategies and moves, and when you donít have an opponent, there are several computers in the room you can play against. Your community library also has materials on the subject.

Chess is often referred to as the ďgame of kings", and has a very interesting history. The game is played in nearly every country in the world, and itís far from boring, since after only two moves each, more than 70,000 different moves are possible.

The aim in chess is to capture your opponentís king, using your Queen, rooks, which look like medieval towers, knights, bishops, and pawns. When this is accomplished you will hear the word ďcheckmate!" More than 1000 years ago when chess began in India, ďShah mat!" were the words said, which meant ďYour king is dead!" After many years of being spread around the world, the English speaking people began to say ďCheckmate!"

Chess has been around for hundreds of years. Even the Vikings played the game on their ships. They had boards with holes in them and each piece had a peg at the bottom so they would stay in place in the worst storms. It is also said that when Columbus requested ships from King Ferdinand for his journey to the New World, he was given them only because the King was in a good mood from winning a game of chess.

One of the first two books printed in the English language was about chess, entitled The Game and Play of Chess. The other book was the Bible. Even a few of our past presidents, including Carter, enjoyed the game.

Perhaps one reason chess has endured throughout the centuries is that it includes all levels of society. As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar, ĎThe fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are (pawns).'

Saturday, March 8, marks the first annual Paynesville Area Chess Tournament which will be held in the Middle School Library (media center). Registration is $6 for participants, $15 per family, or $10 each at the door. The money raised will go back into promoting chess. All ages are welcome, and if you have any questions about the tournament, call Jay Thompson at 243-3887, or for more information about chess itself, call the United States Chess Federation at 1-800-388-KING (5464).

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