Kent Scholastic ChessTuesday, October 14, 2003 By Lindsay Lusby
Checkmate! A new sport has swept through Kent County, capturing children of all ages --- the game of chess. The name of the game is Kent Scholastic Chess, a free program reaching out to Kent County Schools, public and private, and anywhere else they can inspire children and adults alike to discover the wonder and challenge of chess. “I think chess is a great way for people to develop self-confidence, thinking skills, and social skills,” says Dr. Michael Harvey, a professor at Washington College and leader of the new Kent County Public Library chess club. “Besides, playing chess is a lot of fun.” Inspired by Mr. Eugene Brown, the man responsible for teaching the art of chess to many inner-city children in Washington D.C., Dr. Harvey hopes to make such an earthquake here. Chess may not seem the most exciting activity to engage in, but he hopes to change that misconception. Its challenge and the dedication it requires may open doors for many Kent County children, an opportunity to expand their minds while having fun. A new addition to this program was a club at the Kent County Public Library, led by Dr. Harvey. The first meeting was Tuesday, September 23, 2003, and Dr. Harvey is quite enthusiastic about the turnout. The children that joined in ranged from grades 3-9 and most importantly, all of them appeared to have fun, fully enthused in learning to play chess. The chess club will be meeting every Tuesday afternoon from 4:00-5:30pm at the Kent County Public Library, and is open to all who wish to join. The most recent stop for Kent Scholastic Chess was Kent County High School, and it began on Wednesday, October 1, 2003. The instructor of this branch is Mr. Paul Sonberg, winner of the Kent Island Tournament and named “best chess player in Kent County” by Dr. Harvey. This prestigious player is holding chess club meetings at the high school, Wednesday afternoons from 2:40-4:40pm. This energetic organization is also providing KCHS with a generous $500 package that includes tournament boards, clocks, and teaching materials. This is not the first year, though, that Kent Scholastic Chess has been established. Rock Hall Elementary School was the first Kent County school to instate this program. Last year, though, chess fever spread quickly as Garnett Elementary School, Chestertown Middle School, Kent School, and Radcliffe Creek School all joined in the game. In May 2003, CMS was home to the Kent Scholastic Chess Open, a tournament in which 27 kids ages 8-14 participated. At the time, during the 2002-2003 school year, 70 kids were a part of the program, and their goal this school year is to double that number. The long-term goal, though, is to give Kent County the “strongest scholastic chess program in the state,” says Dr. Harvey. This program is supported financially by many sponsors, including Kent County Public Schools, the Soroptimists, and various individual contributors hoping to have a positive impact on the lives of Kent County children. For more information, visit the Kent Scholastic Chess website at www.kentchess.org. Exciting tournaments await Kent County this fall and throughout the school year, so keep your eyes open and get ready to play.