Chess club draws scouts for merit badge

Scouts from across Mississippi recently came together to earn their Chess Merit Badges at a clinic hosted by the Scott County Chess Club on National Chess Day.

Held at the Forest Baptist Church Family Life Center on October 8, the clinic drew Boy Scouts from Greenville, Flowood and Brandon to learn about the game and how to play it. Several of Forest’s Troop 63 scouts have already earned the badge.

Chris Baker, founder and co-ordinator of the local chess club, said the clinic was the start of what should become a regular activity for the club.

“We appreciated the opportunity to partner with BSA’s Andrew Jackson Board to host this clinic which we plan to host at least once a year,” Baker said. “The inclusion of chess among Scouting’s selection of merit badges is another indication of the popularity of chess in our country and the opportunities it creates to teach life lessons to our young people.”

Baker said turnout was low considering the number of other events taking place in the state this time of year on the same weekend, but official recognition of chess nationwide each year on second Saturday in October made the date special.

“We hoped that more Scouts would participate; but since it was our first time doing this kind of event, a small crowd was a good way to test the waters,” Baker said. “At the same time, we were impressed with how far some parents traveled to bring their scouts to our event.”

The clinic lasted three hours and covered topics such as the history of chess, piece movement and board layout, and the rules of the game. Baker, who became a Certified Merit Advisor this year, provided these instructions during the first half of the clinic. Baker’s son Aaron spoke to the tactics and strategy groups and the clinic ended with the scouts playing several matches in tournament format.

The Bakers also plan to attend the Andrew Jackson Council Winter Camp at Hood Scout Reservation in November to teach the game and help more Scouts earn their chess badges.

For more information, visit the club online at scottcountychessclub.org.

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