Article originally published in the LaSalle News Tribune, April 20, 2013
By Matthew Baker
Just minutes after the community room in Peru City Hall was filled with the sounds of children playing a spur-of-the-moment round of musical chairs, the noise dropped to sub-whisper levels as the children took their sides around a handful of chess boards.
The North Central Regional Betterment Coalition has created a series of intermural chess meets for third- through fifth- and sixth- through eighth- grade students.
“They learn at their schools, they come here to compete,” said DeAnna Carlson, who facilitates the NCRBC chess events.
Once the games began and the students, primarily from Tonica on Saturday morning, were focused on their boards, even comments between one another were limited to gestures and the occasional whisper.
“Chess is fun, it’s competitive,” and Adam Ford, a tournament chess player who coaches the Tonica School team. “There’s an old saying. ‘You can learn chess in a few minutes, but it takes a lifetime to master.'”
Adults stay hands-off during the games, letting the children develop their abilities.
Ford said the children tend to pick up the basics of the game quickly, while chess’s complexities keep them interested.
“There’s an infinite amount of moves, and every game is different,” he said.
During a short break after their first game, a pair of students explained why they enjoy chess.
“It works my brain a lot,” said Bryan Stillwell, 11, of Tonica. “It helps me in school.”
Johnny Johnson, 9, of Tonica added, “It’s one of the only puzzle games that I can find that I actually like.”
The next chess event is 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 4 in Peru City Hall. Registration begins at 9 a.m. For more information contact Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (815) 223-2949.