Popularity of chess on rise in state

  • Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zachary Templeton is 2012 S.C. High School Scholastic Chess champion. PHOTOS PROVIDED


The world has become a more competitive place. Children need every advantage they can grasp in order to succeed in this fast-paced, result-driven society.

Some South Carolina students and parents are turning to the age-old game of chess to help sharpen their logic and critical thinking skills.

Acknowledging their desire to have these analytical minds on their campuses, a growing list of U.S. colleges and universities offer chess scholarships.

While some of our state’s expanding body of student chess players are capable of taking advantage of such an offer, the majority of these students just enjoy the clarity of thought and the excitement of competition.

One of the South Carolina Chess Association’s (SCCA) premier events, the South Carolina Scholastic Championships, will be held on March 23 at the Samuel A. Heyward Career and Technology Center. The center is located at 3560 Lynhaven Drive in Columbia. Any K-12 student who wants to play is encouraged to come. All levels of experience are welcome and equipment is provided.

Over the last several years, the event has annually attracted about 90 contestants from all across the state. “For the last couple of years, we’ve topped 100 players and have had as many as 137,” said David Whatley, the S.C. Chess Association Scholastic Coordinator. “It shows that the game’s popularity is on the rise in South Carolina.”

This year’s tournament features a K-3 (primary division) and a 4-5 (elementary division), a 6-8 (middle school division) and a 9-12 (high school division). A total of 37 trophies will be awarded.

First-third place (each division) – 12 trophies

Grade champion (K-12) – 13 trophies

Female champion (each division) – 4 trophies

First and second team champions (each division) – 8 trophies

The top-finishing high school player will go on to The Denker Tournament of High School Champions, while the top-finishing female high school player will play in the U.S. Chess Federation’s National Girls Invitational, and the middle school champion will play at the Barber Tournament of K-8 winners.

These three events will be held in Madison, Wisc., in conjunction with the U.S. Open. The SCCA pays a small stipend to assist the young champions with travel costs.

There are some nominal fees associated with participation in the Columbia event.

One-year U.S. Chess Federation membership runs between $17 and $26, depending on age (the USCF membership can be purchased online at www.uschess.org).

The one-year SCCA membership of $5.

The tournament entry fee of $15 can be paid on site, or in advance (see the SCCA website at www.scchess.org for details).

The website contains state chess news, links to local club activity, and information about adult and scholastic tournaments.

Email questions to Whatley at whatleydavid@bellsouth.net.

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