Check Mates: Chazy Central’s Chess Club Brings Friendships and Friendly Competition | News

CHAZY — For about an hour a week, about two dozen students from Chazy Central Rural School gather in science teacher Ken Alton’s classroom for chess club meetings to learn and practice the “game of chess.” kings”.

But for a game as stoic and serious as chess is often portrayed, there are also plenty of jokes, laughs and shared friendships in the room.


Alton proposed the club to the school last October, suggesting that it fosters values ​​of academic and personal development similar to those of the school’s Model United Nations club, and the club received school board approval on same month.

Alton, who has played chess on and off since childhood, said the group welcomes experienced players and newcomers alike.

He remembers a student coming to a meeting, explaining that she had never played chess before, and how he sat down and showed her the basics.

“And after that she was playing somebody else and doing pretty well,” he said. “So it’s good to see that.”


Club meetings often begin with Alton explaining a new tactic or strategy, then freeing up the kids to team up and play games against each other.

“Most of the time I want them to just play, because I think that’s the best way to improve,” he said.

Alton then walks around the room, watching the various matches and offering advice as needed.

On this recent afternoon, club members gathered as Alton demonstrated the forking technique, where a piece can be moved to where it targets not just one, but two opposing pieces on the board.

From there, the students separated and engaged in games using the chessboards set up in the room.


Some matches were simpler, while others, like the match between 7th grader Emma Fritz and 10th grader Joshua Farrell, were about practicing skills.

From their first moves, Fritz and Farrell were thinking and discussing the strategies they were going to use for the match.

But as Fritz made his second move, Farrell spoke up. Pausing play for a moment, Farrell suggested a different move Fritz could do to better set up his opening attack.


When asked how he would introduce chess to people who might think it was a slow or complicated game, Farrell admitted games can be “boring” at times.

“But chess is not (just) moving parts like some people think,” he explained. “It’s thinking, it’s strategy, it’s learning what other people think.”

Fritz agreed, adding that she liked how, compared to the ferocity of school football, games at the Chess Club were more than friendly competition.

But on the other side of the coin, that competition intensified as 14-year-old Owen Kapp took on 13-year-old Liam Bulriss, drawing a crowd of children to gather.

With every move carefully considered, it was only the buzzing of the class bell that ended the game.

Kapp, wearing a Chazy Eagles sweatshirt, noted how the game compared to his game for the football team.

“With football, I focus naturally. In chess, I haven’t played that long,” Kapp said. “Focusing on chess also helps me focus on football.”


Having been an athlete at school himself, Alton would like to see other North Country school districts form chess clubs to allow for regional tournaments.

“Kids could go compete and be proud of it,” he said.


Using a school-provided laptop to play online, Grade 7 student Jack McAuliffe already got a taste of this wider competition.

Alton requested and was granted permission to let club members create accounts on, allowing students to compete against opponents from around the world.

McAuliffe said he appreciated the chance to not just play against his same classmates all the time.

“Once you’ve played with them enough, you kind of have an (easier) chance with them,” he explained, with online opponents presenting new challenges.

McAuliffe also explained that Ludwig – a popular video game player whom McAuliffe watched play games online – occasionally played chess for fans to watch on his online program, reflecting the growing popularity of online gaming with young people. generation.


But 13-year-old Kayden Larose looked even further ahead.

“I feel like every time I get better (at chess) I could open my own store”, or a game shop where people could come and play chess.

But, returning to his game with 16-year-old Hailey Laurin, Larose would stick to chess club matches for now.

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