14 May 2009

Lake Spokane Elementary

Chess unites as equals young and old, male and female, and competitors from all cultures. Through chess, young people gain self-esteem. They improve men­tal skills of concentration, memory, and analysis. Chess develops sportsmanship, responsibility, and respect for oth­ers. The game is relatively simple to learn, but never ceases to challenge players of all skill levels.
James Stripes, as quoted in "Checkmate"
A team of elementary chess players showed up at a scholastic chess tournament a bit over a year ago and took home a team trophy. It was their first chess tournament, and I had not heard of the school before that day. I knew the school was relatively new because the old Long Lake only recently had been renamed Lake Spokane. It will take a generation for everyone in the area to learn the new name, but it will help if they are chess players.

I believe the 2008 Dragonslayer at Saint George's School was their first tournament. They showed up in team shirts and no one had ever heard of them before. Some of their players found the competition tough, but others won a respectable number of games.

Last fall, I was invited to their school to make a presentation--a short lesson--to their chess club. They were polite, attentive, and seemed to have a good grasp of the chess ideas I was putting forth. Their coaches are mothers that learned chess from books and teach what they know to the kids. The next week, I told the kids at Arcadia Elementary to expect tough competition from this group. At the next event, they beat us for the second place trophy.

Eleven players from Lake Spokane Elementary qualified for and competed at the 2009 Washington State Elementary Chess Championship last month. This week's Outpost, a newspaper for their rural/suburban community, features their success at state on the front page. Read it online: "Checkmate: New Chess Club Scores Big at State."


  1. Nice report over that chess club and also about the tournament.

    I had a laugh about the last sentence of the article, "Next time bring your sleepingbag." I didn't know that sleeping during rounds was/is permitted. :-)

  2. I often sleep while I wait for my opponent to move. It helps me concentrate. It's uncanny how I'm able to wake when it is my turn, even sometimes when I fall asleep during a blitz game. However, the sleeping bag reference was a comment on needs for comfort for parents. They expend a lot of energy during an eight hour long children's chess tournament. Parents must comfort and console after each loss, and share the near mania of each victory while gently bringing the child back to earth.