Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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March 27, 2014

Checkmate: After-school club draws JHS students

JACKSONVILLE — A new after-school club at the local high school has drawn the attention of approximately 40 students interested in one of the world's most popular board games: Chess.

“I think most of the students genuinely like to play chess or they hope to improve their chess skills, while some kids attend for social reasons,” said Jacksonville High School math teacher Larry Richmond.

He and fellow math teacher Jimmy Prinz are co-sponsors of the club, which launched at the beginning of the year.

“The club was originally the idea of Jimmy,” Richmond said, describing a chess team already in place at the local middle school that's led by Sherry Matlock. “We hope to get clubs started at the elementary schools and the intermediate school.”

While there is no formal membership of the high school club, Richmond estimates 15 to 20 students attend the Monday meetings, with an overall 40 youths participating.

“We have been mostly having fun playing each other, and conducted a tournament this past Monday – we should complete it next week and crown our first school champion,” he said.

The winner will receive a $20 WalMart giftcard and be named president of the chess club.

Participating students most likely focus on the fun and camaraderie of the game, but “there are a multitude of studies on how chess impacts thinking, particularly in children,” Richmond pointed out.

“For me, the greatest value to academics lies in two areas: Logical thinking and work ethic.  To excel in chess, you must learn how to consider a sequence of moves and parse the advantages of each. More importantly, you have to be willing to put in the time at the board to improve your game. Even the brightest young players can be beaten by perhaps less gifted players who work harder and spend more hours in front of the board,” he said. “These are skills that are useful in academics and all areas of life.”

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