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Discovery Middle School eighth-graders Zachary Calinsky, from left, Caleb Chen, Owen Lang, Steven Pan and Swetha Jakka placed fifth in the National K-12 Chess Showdown. CONTRIBUTED

Discovery ranks high in National K-12 Showdown for chess

MADISON – Chess players at Discovery Middle School ranked in fifth place among contestants in the National K-12 Showdown chess competition.

Team members earning the national ranking are Zachary Calinsky, Caleb Chen, Swetha Jakka, Owen Lang and Steven Pan. They all are in eighth grade.

These students competed in the showdown in December. The U.S. Chess organization coordinated this online chess tournament on Chess.com after the annual Grade Nationals contest in Orlando was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Grade Nationals is a unique event because kids in the same grade level from across the country compete against each other for individual and team awards,” Ranae Bartlett said. Bartlett serves as Executive Director of Madison City Chess League.

The Madison students traveled to Orlando to compete in this annual grade-level chess contest in 2020, as well as other years past, and were looking forward to competing again last December.

“Our students have done a great job of continuing to improve their chess skills in weekly practices and competing in online chess tournaments, like the National K-12 Showdown,” Bartlett said.

The Discovery team’s coach is Michael Guthrie, a University of Alabama freshman and graduate of Bob Jones High School. The chess team holds virtual practices with Web-Ex, and they use the ChessKid platform. Their sponsor is Julie Goldston.

Currently, the team is preparing for the State Scholastic Chess Championship, which is scheduled at the end of March in online format on ChessKid.com.

ChessKid.com provides learning tools that motivate youth to learn and improve their chess skills. While learning chess, players gain skills that they can apply throughout life: strategy, tactics, creativity, perseverance and calculated risk-taking.

Players engage with various learning tools, puzzles and real-time chess against computer robots or other humans with ChessKid.com. This activity provides brain-stimulating challenges to youth, even with the natural growing pains of learning the demanding game of chess. (ChessKid.com)

Madison City Chess League’s mailing address is P.O. Box 843, Madison AL 35758. For more information about the league’s activities, visit madisonchess.com.

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