Rock Rest Elementary School hosted its first ever Swiss Chess Tournament recently, an event opened not only to the school’s chess club members, but to all fourth- and fifth-grade students.
Avid chess player and Rock Rest custodian Ian Haigler, along with teacher Nancy Whitley, the chess club sponsors, and Rock Rest community volunteers Tony Cato and Mitch Austin, assisted the players, arranged pairings, posted score cards and tallied the cumulative scores at the end to determine the winners at the event, which lasted from 9 am until noon in the school’s media center.
“The tournament was a great success,” Whitley said. “We are just getting started with this endeavor, and we hope to continue to have a chess team in the future. We are planning aspring tournament and we expect double the participants then. We look forward to more activities this year and next.”
There were four rounds. At the end of round one, Jackson Cararrubias was leading. In round two, Keren Bustamante, Joshua McCoy, Jakaron Timmons, and Gary Miller began to ease away from the others and set up a four-way tie for first place. This bumped Jackson into a second-place tie with Jaden Harrick and Edgar Sanchez.
“There was a lot of excitement and anticipation as the tournament progressed,” Whitley said. “Parents were watching and gathering close to the tournament area at the end of each round waiting anxiously to see the results and the next pairings.”
Round three added yet anotherplayer to the now five-way tie for first place when Edgar joined the leaderboard. The last and final round gave way to the winner of the tournament – Gary Miller. His high score followed by Keren and Edgar, both tying for second place.
Trophies were given to the first- and second-place competitors in fourth and fifth grades. “The first-place trophies were approximately four feet tall with a chess piece on the top and the school name engraved on the front,” Whitley said. “The second-place trophies were similar to the first-place trophies, but a bit smaller.”
The trophies, given to the school by an anonymous donor earlier in the year, were awarded to three players total. All players received certificates of participation and their own personal chess set and/or prizes.
Rock Rest’s Chess Club, which is in its second year, started its season in September and ends in late March. The club consists of mostly fifth graders and meets once each week for 45 minutes.
“There are 12 students currently in the chess club but there will be an opportunity for more students to join at our next open enrollment date at the end of January,” Whitley said.
Haigler begins the meetings with a problem of the day or a scenario for the students to ponder during the class. He does demonstrations and mock chess plays, and he often plays all the students at one time with two students at a board together as his opponents.
“Students in the club are very eager to get started each week,” Whitely said. “They have benefited socially from their interaction with their opponents, as well as practiced their higher-level thinking skills.”
This year Haigler and Whitley have added a mobile library for the club, and the members can check out books about chess. They have also made contact with Alexandra Kosteniuk, the women’s’ world chess champion, and are in the process of trying to work out a scheduled appearance at the school in the spring.
– This article was provided courtesy of Union County Public Schools