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Checkmate! Young players master chess strategies

Rainbow Chess Team celebrates its recent victory.

At very young ages, students are mastering chess strategies in their school clubs.

Chess teams from Rainbow, West Madison and Horizon elementary schools competed in the Bishop’s Bash Chess Tournament on March 3 in Hampton Cove. Huntsville Chess Club sponsored the meet.

In the K-3 division, Rainbow tied for third place. Individual winners were Boone Ramsey, ninth place; Steven Lockwood, tenth tie; and for K-5 Mitch Bedard and Michael Guthrie, ninth tie. Rainbow students Hayden Billman, Alex Almanza and Nolan Drummond also competed.

Rainbow enrichment teacher Debbie Gulden has served as chess sponsor for seven years.

Bishop’s Bash was a “a Swiss Style tournament,” compared to a round robin, parent volunteer Ranae Bartlett said. “Each competitor played five matches. Winners were determined by individual point totals.”

“This was the first tournament for our K-3 team members,” Bartlett said. “I wanted them to go for the experience — with no expectation of awards.”

“Playing chess well requires concentration, pattern recognition, strategic planning, creativity, analysis and evaluation,” Bartlett said.

The West Madison Chess Team won second place for K-3 at Bishop Bash, their third tournament, and won second place at the Rookie Rally at Blossomwood and Randolph schools in February.

U.S. Chess Federation members, West Madison’s team includes Sujay Jakka, Karthik Reddy, Courtney Allen, Graeme Oakes and Akshat Katoch, who all have won individual trophies and medals.

Along with loving the game, the West Madison students joined for the challenge, intellectual aspect and tournament competition.

The players also benefit academically. “Chess enables students to problem solve and enhances their critical thinking skills,” Taylor said. “Chess reaches across multiple intelligences to address all learning strengths.”

Rainbow fifth-grader Mitch Bedard enjoys chess “because it’s fun … expands your mind and teaches you strategy. It has been my favorite game for a long time.”

Rainbow second-grader Boone Ramsey was the youngest competitor yet accumulated his division’s highest individual score in his first tournament. He has played chess for eight months.

“I like to play chess because it’s a lot of fun and I like to compete. I get to play other kids and learn to get better,” Ramsey said.

West Madison Chess Club members are (front, from left) Jonathan Byers, Graeme Oakes, Sujay Jakka and Courtney Allen and (back, from left) Daniel Swinney, Joshua Byers, Ryan Goldsmith, Justin Byers and Akshat Katoch.

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