Chess-In-The-Schools MLK Tournament(USA)
Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Chess Tournament-Harlem NY
Fox5 News Video
‘…Hundreds of metro area kids will gather at Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Academy on Monday to do battle in Martin Luther King Jr’s name.
You have to believe the slain civil rights leader would be proud.
“It is not unusual for us to have 900 to 1,000 kids at this tournament, competing for the day,” said Marley Kaplan, president and CEO of tournament organizer Chess-in-the-Schools organization, noting that the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Chess Tournament is the largest competition of its type in the city.
“We thought MLK Jr. day was a great day to bring all the kids together,” she added, “and that’s sort of the genesis of how it came about.”
On other weekends, the group sponsors tournaments that average between 500 and 800 players, ranging in age from kindergarten to high school, Kaplan said.
Students love it, she said, in part because it’s more than a game.
“It’s not reading, it’s not arithmetic, it’s not geography, but yet all those subjects matter in chess,” Kaplan said. “When you’re playing chess, you’re doing relatively high level math because you have to read the coordinates on the board just like any graph. Pieces have number values, so you’re constantly looking at strength based on number value.
“And kids who want to get better at chess read, because you have to read chess books to get better. So even though it is fun, you are doing all those things too. Plus it’s very competitive, and kids like to compete.”
Chess is also “the complete opposite of a lot of what kids do for fun now. It’s not like a computer game where it’s going really fast. You have to stop, you have to think. Decisions carry consequences. You move too fast, you are going to lose your piece and the game.
“So kids are having fun, but they are learning all sorts of valuable skills, she said. “Students learn the benefits of learning to sit still and concentrating, which is always so important and you can’t always get from computer games. They also learn the value of losing, because after every game the students will go to the chess coach and go over that game. That’s where they learn a lot, including that losing is perfectly natural and you can learn from it.”
That concentration is evident at the start of each tournament, Kaplan said.