Friday, December 28, 2001
Middle schooler wins chess tournament
An East Coweta middle schooler came out tops in the first Coweta County system chess tournament earlier this month.
John Moreland finished first among 59 Coweta County middle and elementary age student chess players who competed in the tournament at Smokey Road Middle School.
Their schools and the Newnan Rotary Club sponsor county middle school chess clubs.
Andrew Schneider, also of East Coweta Middle, took second place and Brandon Gardner of Arnall Middle took third place among middle school competitors; Derek Jett of White Oak, Kevin Andrews of White Oak and T. J. Cornay of Western were the top-ranked elementary school players at the tournament, taking first, second and third respectively.
Six rounds of competitive play determined winners, lasting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Middle school winner John Moreland won his final round by luring his opponent into a split attack, offering a sacrifice of his queen-side knight, and making a supported attack with his queen.
Moreland was also the only undefeated player during the day's play.
Scoring allowed for one point for a win and no points for a loss.
Richard Booth, a parent who supports the Evans Middle School chess team, served as tournament director. He has worked with the chess team for six years, beginning when his first daughter was an Evans student and wanted to join a chess club.
"She played in the first tournament we ever held," he said.
Booth said chess is a game students will always value.
"And there's a high correlation between chess and student's math and reading scores, in particular."
"A lot of schools have incorporated chess into their programs. I'd love to see it become in a connections (optional) class in the middle schools," he said.
"I just love the game. It's the most fascinating game in the world."
In addition to Booth at Evans Middle, teacher Bob Lutz sponsors a chess club at Arnall Middle; teacher Craig Humphrey sponsors at East Coweta Middle; Ron Mann sponsors at Madras Middle; and Mitch Davis sponsors at Smokey Road Middle.
Bob Redman, a chess club vounteer and longtime supporter at Moreland Elementary and Smokey Road Middle, said that he enjoys coaching students to be strong players. He has played chess himself for 50 years.
"It's a good thing, and fun," he said. "If they work at playing, it teaches them how to analyze something complex, and teaches them to keep a goal in mind and work toward that goal. And it sure is fun to win."
Middle school chess programs grew and county-wide chess competitions began about four years ago when Newnan Rotarian Bob Tumperi approached Smokey Road Middle teacher Mitch Davis and others.
Tumperi and the Rotary Club have supported the chess clubs ever since, both with financial help and volunteers from the club who help coach students at weekly club meets.
Tumperi said his support comes because of his love of the game, because play and tournaments emphasize good sportsmanship and courtesy, and because a wealth of studies demonstrate that mastery of the game improves student academic performance.
In addition to the middle school students competing Saturday, Thomas Crossroads, Moreland, Canongate, White Oak and Western Elementary Schools and Coweta County home schoolers competed in the tournament.
The draw of 59 competitors was the largest in the four years of Coweta County chess tournaments. The next county-wide tournament is being planned for February, and any students from fourth through the eighth grades are invited to compete.