Teams of students from across Mississippi gathered in Scott County last weekend to compete for state chess championships and the opportunities to represent the state at national competitions.
More than 70 players from all grade levels came to Roosevelt State Park in Morton where the Mississippi Chess Association held the 2022 Scholastic Team Chess Championships. Public and private schools, as well as a home school association, sent multiple 4-player teams to compete in sections including K-3, K-5, K-8, and K-12. A few individual awards were also given.
Franklin County Chess teams were the biggest winners taking top prizes in three of the four sections. The overall winners include:
K-3: First Place, Franklin County; 2nd place, St. Augustine (Ridgeland)
K-5: First Place, Franklin County; 2nd place, CHECmate (homeschool association)
K-8: First Place, Madison Middle School; 2nd place, Franklin County
K12: First Place, Franklin County; 2nd place, CHECmate
The Scott County Chess Club served as resident host and provided support for the two-day event that started early Saturday morning and finished late Sunday afternoon. This is also the second chess tournament to be held at Roosevelt State Park since the club formed in 2018.
Chris Allen Baker, the coordinator and founder of the local chess club, said the state tournament was an economic benefit for the Morton-Forest area. “In addition to the funds that came to Roosevelt State Park in renting the space, players and their coaches and families ate at local restaurants and stayed in lodging facilities over a two-day period. It was a winning combination for everyone,” Baker said.
The Mississippi Chess Association learned about the amenities at the state park when a member of their board of directors and coordinator for the scholastic events attended a tournament held in November by the chess club.
“The tournament director saw what we have here and was impressed with what we could offer as a great venue for chess events,” Baker said. “There are a few details that need to be addressed for future tournaments, but we are excited about the possibilities and more people are now aware of what we have to offer. This is another example of the opportunities that exist in bringing people to Scott County as well as offering the same opportunities to our residents to participate in the game of chess.”
There were no teams from local schools in this tournament, but that is something Baker said he hopes will change as the local club grows.
“We have students who can play chess and many of them learned the game through their gifted classes in recent years before COVID-19. The East Central Talented and Gifted (ECTAG) program where our local schools participate has included chess among its activities. We should help students develop those skills and keep making these opportunities available to them,” Baker said. “Many students can benefit from chess in a lot of ways that can help them grow stronger in other areas of their lives.”
The scholastic individual tournament will be held in Ridgeland late next month, and local students are eligible to participate. The Scott County Chess Club is already planning its next tournaments at Roosevelt State Park for May 14 and November 5. The club meets regularly on the first Saturday each month at the Forest Public Library (9-11 a.m.) and at Foothills in Forest (1-3 p.m.).
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