Young chess players to compete for championships

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Sixty-four squares per board, 150 boards and about 300 intently focused elementary students will fill the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at Bowling Green State University during the 2008 Ohio Elementary Chess Championships on Saturday (March 8). This is the first time the championships will be held in northwest Ohio.

The tournament is one of two annual events sanctioned by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) in which Ohio chess titles are conveyed for elementary students. Almost 1,000 participants and family members are expected to attend.

In addition to state titles, a scholarship will be awarded to the individual champion in each of the five playing sections.

“I believe chess is a very good educational tool for developing young minds,” said Beth Yingling, president of the Bowling Green Montessori Chess Booster Club, which is organizing the event.

Students in kindergarten through sixth grade from around the state will be competing in five rounds of competition. Participants may compete individually or as part of a team.

Yingling said it is amazing to see young children have such strong concentration. She described the atmosphere as quiet, intense and fun. “It's not whether you win or lose, it's really about learning good sportsmanship, working hard and knowing that you did your best,” she said.

According to the Bowling Green Montessori School chess coach, Jim Van Vorhis, chess at the elementary level is a new phenomenon. He said that while high school chess has been around for 50 years, elementary-level chess has only peaked in popularity within the last decade.

Van Vorhis went on to say many people underestimate children in this age group and think only high school and junior high students are able to play chess.

To keep the environment conducive to the necessary concentration, family members will not be allowed in the ballroom during the championship. After completing a round, students will exit the ballroom and spend time with their families in 208 Union, the event headquarters and family waiting room.

Elementary students interested in entering the tournament must register before Thursday (March 6). Current USCF membership is required for sections other than novice. The tournament flier and registration form are available at www.chessrocks.org, or by contacting Yingling at 419-350-3918.

Doors open at 8 a.m., and the first round starts at 10 a.m. Awards for the novice sections begin as the sections are completed, and awards for the rated sections will be at 5 p.m.

The primary sponsors for the 2008 championships are BGSU's Office of Student Affairs and the Sky Insurance Co. 

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Media Contacts : Journalists may meet with competitors and their families in the family waiting room (208 Union). For more information, call Yingling at 419-350-3918, Van Vorhis at 419-354-1562, or Bonnie Blankinship, BGSU Marketing and Communications, at 419-372-2618.

(Posted March 03, 2008 )