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No pawns here: Blountville chess tournament attracts record number of students

Nick Shepherd • Apr 24, 2016 at 9:00 AM

When more than 70 students get together, it is usually a very noisy affair. But that was not the case on Saturday when students from all across the region gathered in silence to put their chess skills to the test.

A record number of students turned out to compete against one another in the East Tennessee Scholastic Chess Tournament which was held Saturday at the Tri-Cities Christian School in Blountville. The school has hosted two tournaments a year since 2014, one in the Spring and another in the Fall.

The tournament was organized by Steve and Polly Owen, the chess coaches at TCCS.

"I think it gives them confidence," Steve said. "There's been studies that show (chess players) score higher on academic studies."

Preparations for the tournament began in October. TCCS Chess Club advertised the tournament on the Tennessee Chess Association website and sent out emails and posts on Facebook.

Polly said the tournament attracts regulars and is getting bigger every time it is played.

Players came from all over the region to play at the tournament. Students came from schools such as Lenoir City High School and Elementary School, Happy Valley High School, Providence Academy, Dobyns Bennett High School, University School, Rogersville Middle School, Innovation Academy, Farragut Middle School, Science Hill High School, Liberty Bell Middle School, Sevier Middle, Boones Creek Middle School, TCCS, and several home schooled students.

The tournament was broken down into four sections.

Primary elementary is for third grade students and below, the elementary section is for students in sixth grade and below, the middle school section consisted of students in grades nine and below and the high school section featured teenagers in grades 10,11 and 12.

The tournament consisted of four games over a four-hour time span. Trophies were set out for first through fifth place in primary elementary, elementary, middle and high school grades. Team trophies were also awarded for first through third place in all four sections. In all, 38 trophies were handed out.

After the tournament was over, the kids had a chance to play a simul game with the state’s top ranked player, Forest Chen from Knoxville.

A simul is where the two played 30 players at once. Trophies were handed out for the top six players who gave the best game during the simul.

While winning is the goal, Steve said it is not the winner that always impresses him.

"I'm impressed with the kid that's lost every game and wants to come back and go for more," he said. "That's the guy that's going to be the real player."

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