Students finish season with chess challenge

Journal Pioneer staff
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Players from across Prince County in fun tournament at Boys and Girls Club

SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Boys and Girls Club hosted 25 young chess enthusiasts, from Tignish to Kensington, for a chess challenge to wind down a season of development in the schools.

Terrin Lewis, left, won the Boys and Girls Club chess challenge with a checkmate over Mason Works, after both players went through the preliminary rounds undefeated. Even as the final match concluded, other players continued to test their skills.

Jack McCabe, a substitute teacher from Miminegash, began chess programs at schools in Alberton and Tignish last autumn, recognizing the impact it can have on students.

Chess has been shown to positively impact both intellectual and social skills, leading it to be incorporated into many school curricula as well as being supported as a school activity around the world.

Demonstrated improvements in analytical skills, concentration, abstract and logical thinking, problem solving, memory and other aspects have been shown to benefit math and reading abilities.

Other studies have identified social benefits from improved decision making, friendly competition, exposure to the variety of backgrounds of other players, motivation, self image and group acceptance, as well as chess being an activity that can be played anywhere with a minimum of resources.

McCabe considers the game an outlet for students who aren’t involved in more common activities like sports, and promotes its influence on learning skills for all students. For the initial phase, he purchased chess sets from his own funds and provided basic instruction.

Building on the positive response he saw from students in his own area, McCabe approached the Summerside Boys and Girls Club to help expand the reach of the game. The club purchased 100 sets and distributed them to 11 other elementary schools, inviting volunteers to run the programs. That effort has attracted more than 300 students to the game.

McCabe’s plan was to organize the school program between November and spring break, which led to the chess challenge as a season finale.

Boys and Girls Club program director Matt Pauptit considered the challenge a great way to have players meet those outside their school in friendly competition. An earlier scheduled date was postponed due to weather, but they were still able to honour the original season concept and Pauptit was pleased with the attendance.

The success this year has McCabe considering a province-wide organization. Chess has had success in the schools over the years, but it usually depends on a school staff member having a strong enough interest to commit to the organization needed.

Further expansion of the school program will have to wait for the next school year, but the Boys and Girls Club could be the venue that will fill the gap. Pauptit would also like to see the programs continue and is considering incorporating chess into the club’s program over the summer to maintain interest and an outlet for organized play.

“The sets are available. We may be able to appoint staff to run the program,” but the details haven’t been worked out yet, he advised.

Students who have learned the game this year don’t have to wait, though, as they can practice the game on their own or with friends any time they want.

Organizations: Summerside Boys and Girls Club

Geographic location: Prince, Alberton

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  • Jan
    March 30, 2014 - 07:00

    There is a very active provincial scholastic chess association on PEI. The PEI Youth Chess Association hosts monthly rated tournaments, a yearly school team championship, offers instructional camps and each year hosts the provincial tournament, sends a 12 player team to the Nationals each year, as well as a team to the yearly Maritime scholastic tournament. For more information go to www.peiyca.ca