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Old March 13th 05, 01:40 AM
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Default Got Game?

Got game? Foundation promotes chess as classroom learning tool

By Sanjay Bhatt

Seattle Times staff reporter

The third-grade boy in Heather Graves' class quietly sits and focuses
on chess instructor Mark Morales demonstrating the strategy of "knight
forks" on a hanging green-and-white chessboard.

"What do you do if you're in check?" Morales asks the Beacon Hill
elementary-school class. Several kids raise their hands, but not the
boy, who usually is fidgeting and disruptive during math and reading

"Run away," the boy mutters. A girl sitting next to him suggests
"interpose" (a fancy word for blocking) and "capture." Later, the
students split into pairs to play chess. They shake hands after one
defeats the other.

"The cool thing is there can be language and cultural barriers, but two
kids can sit down and play chess together," Morales says as he watches
the games.

Interest in chess education in schools is growing as a way to build
community across ethnic and class lines, raise the academic achievement
of low-performing students, and offer families a social way to bond
outside of school.

Grants for schools

For more information on grants to schools, contact America's Foundation
for Chess at 206-675-0490 or send e-mail to

Officials with the Seattle-based America's Foundation for Chess, which
has provided in-class chess instruction at 15 elementary schools in
Western Washington, say the foundation aims to branch out to California
in 2005 and eventually become the nation's largest supporter of
in-class chess education. Its target market is 9.2 million second- and
third-graders in regular education programs nationwide.

With more than $500,000 in assets, the foundation is a major player on
the nation's chess scene. In December it will sponsor the U.S. Chess
Championship for the fourth year, this time in San Diego after a
three-year run in Seattle.

This week, the foundation is calling for applications from schools
seeking in-class chess instruction and teacher training. The foundation
wants to make awards to at least seven schools, and each school can get
up to $22,000, said Rourke O'Brien, the foundation's new executive

"Our mission is to strengthen the minds and character of our youth by
advancing chess in our schools and culture," O'Brien said.

Yasser Seirawan, an international grandmaster in Seattle and a Garfield
High School graduate, is on the group's advisory board.

Girls tend to stop playing chess after third grade, and the foundation
wants to encourage more girls to stay in the game. On a recent day,
Morales asked Graves' class to give another word for trading one chess
piece for a higher-value piece.

"Sacrifice," says one student. Morales asks for another word. The kids
are stumped.

"What's the word when your mom buys something at the store, it doesn't
fit, and she goes back to get another?" Morales hints.

"Oh! Oh!" says an excited girl, her arm bouncing up and down. She says
with a knowing beam on her face, "Exchange."

The Seattle foundation, formed in 2000, models its strategy after
Chess-in-the-Schools, a nonprofit that partners with elementary and
junior-high schools in poor neighborhoods of New York City. According
to the New York group, research indicates students who receive chess
instruction make statistically significant gains in reading on a
national standardized test =E2=80" more so than students not learning
chess =E2=80" and the gains are especially high for those behind their
grade level.

Chess-in-the-Schools, started about 15 years ago, reported $7 million
in assets in 2002. The New Jersey-based Kasparov Chess Foundation, with
$2 million in assets in 2002, also partners with school districts to
offer in-class chess instruction.

O'Brien notes that nearly 30 nations formally integrate chess into
their school curricula because of its impact on critical-thinking
skills. The U.S. does not, but chess advocates hope to change that.

One of the first schools to win a grant from America's Foundation for
Chess was Zion Preparatory Academy, a private school in Seattle's
Columbia City neighborhood that has taught students chess in class for
seven years. Principal Victoria Romero said she loves the program
because the foundation's instructors teach chess in a class over the
course of a year, giving the teacher a chance to see how the game
should be taught at a particular grade level. The foundation also
supplied the Afrocentric, Christian academy with all of the chess sets
and teaching aids it needed.

Chess gives Romero's students an engaging way to practice
self-discipline, focus on a problem, use spatial reasoning, understand
what it means to plan ahead, deal with their anger and learn chess'
algebraic notation, she said.

In January, the academy sponsored a chess tournament in honor of the
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. About 350 youths came to play,
including children from Mercer Island.

"Parents were willing to bring their kids across the bridge to compete
in chess," Romero said. "The playing ground was leveled, and it was all
about who was good on the board."

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or

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Old March 13th 05, 12:37 PM
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Players will compete in 7 sections. The prize fund will be broken down
as follows:

Open Section:
1st place $50,000
2nd place $25,000
3rd place $12,500
4th place $7,000
5th place $3,500
6th place $2,000
7th-20th $1,000 each
21st-50th $500 each
1st place $20,000
2nd place $10,000
3rd place $5,000
Under 2300
1st place $20,000
2nd place $10,000
3rd place $5,000

Under 2200, U2000, U1800, U1600
1st place $20,000
2nd place $10,000
3rd place $5,000
4th place $2,500
5th place $1,500
6th place $1,000
7th-20th $500 each
21st-50th $300 each

Under 1400
1st place $12,000
2nd place $6,000
3rd place $3,000
4th place $2,000
5th place $1,500
6th place $1,000
7th-20th $500 each
21st-50th $300 each
Top Under 1200
1st place $10,000
2nd place $5,000
3rd place $3,000
4th place $2,000
5th place $1,000
Top Under 1000
1st place $4,000
2nd place $2,000
3rd place $1,000
4th place $1,000
5th place $1,000

1st place $2,000
2nd place $1,000
3rd place $600
4th place $500
5th place $400
6th-10th $200

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