Strategy & Logic Abound at Chess Competition

Strategy & Logic Abound at Chess Competition
Posted on 04/26/2024

     Forty-four student chess players from Payne, Monte Vista and Parkview schools in the Mountain View School District put their mental strength and gaming talents to the test at the District’s Annual Chess Competition held at Monte Vista School.  

       Students were divided into three levels, Level 1 for beginning players with one year of experience or less, Level 2 for intermediate players with two to three years of experience and Level 3 for advanced players with four or more years of experience for the three-match competition.  Intensity filled the air as students calculated their moves, strategized and maneuvered their pieces across the board.  The skills displayed by the young chess players were impressive as they vied for the title of District Chess Champion.

     As members of their school’s Chess Club, the students meet each week after school with their coaches to learn and perfect the game of strategy, tactics and logic. Monte Vista’s club is led by Marcos Bowers, leading Parkview’s club is Steve Owen and Payne’s club is led by Carlos Campa.

     “Chess is the universal language,” said Bowers.   “I try to make chess fun for students and create a safe space for them to be academic when academics are sometimes deemed ‘un-cool’.   The ultimate goal for the Monte Vista Chess Club is to create independent thinkers that strive to be the best that they can be.  If we are successful in creating students with higher level skills, then these students will be able to compete not only in local job markets but be successful globally.” 

      Chess has been around for 1,500 years and is considered by many as a discipline masked as a game.  Research continues to show that playing chess is great for children as it improves visual memory, attention span and spatial-reasoning ability.  In chess concentration and memory are key just like in school.  Playing chess also enhances reading and math skills because it requires decoding, thinking, comprehension and analysis, and fosters logic, critical thinking and creativity.

     According to Celina Garcia, Chess Competition Coordinator, there are many social and academic benefits to playing the game of chess.

     “Playing chess is very beneficial for our students. From a social aspect there is etiquette around the game and players learn to respect their opponent by not rushing them.  Patience is also a part of the game, by respecting the opponent's thought process and decision-making,” said Garcia.   “Chess also supports the development of higher-order thinking as you try to capture the King in as few moves as possible.”

       “It’s really fun to play chess.  I’ve played for a year now, my dad taught me how to play the game and Mr. Owen has helped me to get better,” said Josue Romero, sixth grader from Parkview School.                                    

       For Sofia Torres, a fourth grader from Monte Vista School, learning to play chess has helped her math skills.

      “When you play chess you learn a lot and it has helped me with math.  I just joined our club last month and Mr. Bowers is a good coach and teaches us how to play better,” she said.

     “I find the game of chess amusing,” said Thomas Tran, sixth grader from Payne School.  “I’ve been playing for two years and I enjoy it very much.  Our club meets two days a week after school and Mr. Campa makes it fun.”

       Clenching top honors in the Level 3 division and the title of 2024 Chess Competition Champion was Ben Nguyen from Monte Vista School.  Placing a close second was Josemanuel Tzarax also from Monte Vista.  

The Level 2 winner was Kenneth Zeng from Payne School and finishing second was Anthony Alvarez from Monte Vista.  In the Level 1 Division first place went to Yalitza Pineda and second place to Emberly Nguyen both from Monte Vista.  MVP awards were also presented to two students who started playing chess with little knowledge but have made amazing progress and growth and went to Andre Camacho from Parkview and Tracy Urena from Payne.  Each competitor was awarded a 2024 Chess Competition medal and a certificate, and the top finishers were awarded with championship level chess boards. 

   “Congratulations to our winners and to all of our participants and coaches,” said Garcia.  “It was a great afternoon of competition and you all displayed incredible skills, great concentration and wonderful sportsmanship.  We are very proud of your efforts and hope you continue to play chess and come back next year for our annual competition.”

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