Revitalized chess club gears up for Saturday tournament | Education

Kyle Red Willow remembers years ago when his father taught him to play chess at the age of 5.

“My father, who passed away, taught me chess when I was 5,” he said. “So I taught my son Conrad to play when he was about 5 years old. “

Conrad, now 6, was one of about 20 children playing chess Monday night at the Rapid City Public Library as part of the Rapid City Scholastic Area Chess Club – a club that resumed in early November.

The group meets from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. most Mondays at the library, said Jan McGrath, who coordinates marketing for the club. She advised people to email in advance if they can to [email protected] to inquire about the room and confirm the meeting time.

McGrath also noted that parents and guardians are encouraged to attend meetings, staying with the children while they play.

The club is planning a vacation “Chess Nut” tournament from 9 am to 4 pm Saturday in the dining room of the Canyon Lake Activity Center in Rapid City. Registration is $ 10.

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Nathan Walstrom, coach and club president, led a lesson and discussion on chess at Monday’s meeting.

“We are a club affiliated with the American Chess Federation,” he said during a break, noting that the club had already been affiliated about three years ago. In recent weeks, Walstrom and a group of other residents have joined in revitalizing the chess club.

McGrath explained that Walstrom, born and raised in Rapid City, was active in the chess club as a young student. It came naturally, she explained, for Walstrom to become a leader of the club as an adult and spearhead the rejuvenation of the club.

Walstrom described some of the benefits of being affiliated with the American Chess Federation.

“It’s a national organization that runs tournaments nationwide, and they have a universal scoring system so that while our players are playing they generate scores or ratings that can be used as a gradation against others. national players. “

Walstrom said Saturday’s tournament will not be an official USCF tournament, but said such tournaments are on the horizon.

“This is going to be a local tournament to build excitement for chess, but in the future we hope to host USCF rated tournaments,” he said.

Walstrom said the target age is wide – from kindergarten to grade 12 or so – and he noted some of the game’s applications that go way beyond the chessboard.

“The biggest lesson I learn from chess is that you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay,” he said. “It all depends on how you recover from these mistakes. In chess, we call it a blunder… and when it does, it’s about how you recover. How are you going to deal with this adversity? “

Walstrom said chess also makes a person think ahead – and practice the skill of thinking ahead. Walstrom, who works as a forensic chemist for the Rapid City Police Department, said the practice has helped fuel his work.

“It has served me very well as a scientist, and I think it applies to almost all areas,” he said. “Right now, as a forensic chemist, I’m still thinking about how the implications of my test results are going to affect another person. “

Brogan McGrath, a high school freshman who is vice president of the Rapid City Scholastic Area Chess Club, also highlighted the power of anticipation instilled by chess. “Visualize” is how McGrath described the phenomenon.

“You do it continually, then you can see further,” he said.

Danielle Giuseffi, the club’s treasurer, spoke of the attraction of chess to her daughter Sydney, 10, and son Jackson, 8.

“Chess gives them an opportunity to think critically and solve problems,” she said. “And I’m so glad they can do it with other kids. Giving children the opportunity to play chess against each other teaches more than just the game, but also social skills and sportsmanship.

Playing fairly and losing gracefully, she explained, are some of the key lessons in chess.

And Kyle Red Willow, the father who taught his young son Conrad to play after learning from his own father, summed up the allure of chess in expansive terms.

“You are using your mind,” he said, “just to put it simply. “

Those looking for more information on Saturday’s tournament or the club itself can visit

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