A sport for the brain

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The football and basketball teams may get most of the glory, but a team of a different sort at King’s Fork High School has been distinguishing itself recently on a field the size of a tabletop.

Members of the King’s Fork chess team set a high bar this weekend at the Virginia Scholastic and College Chess Championships in Virginia Beach, a tournament organized by the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association.

The tournament format called on team members to play six rounds of chess apiece, and at the end of those six rounds, Bruce Flores had won first place in the 1400-ranking category, and Ty Summers had won second place in the unranked division.

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We’ve never been to a chess tournament, but it seems a safe bet that there were no grandstands packed with screaming fans, no cheerleaders dancing on the sidelines and no announcers calling the games over a public address system.

Nonetheless, these King’s Fork students, the school program that has created the chess club and the team that represents the club deserve the recognition.

STEM teacher Todd Gidley has been teaching chess in his classroom for years to develop students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The team developed organically from there. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the students gather after school to play against each other and practice their skills. They also put in a lot of hours practicing at home.

Think of the chess team as a high school sport for the mind. When you look at it that way, maybe it would be appropriate to send the cheering squad along, after all. Students seeking to better themselves through intellectual pursuits need all the encouragement they can get.