Kids learn life lessons at chess board

May 21, 2009 8:02:33 PM PDT
An Oakland elementary school, named Learning Without Limits, has earned some bragging rights. Recently, they won the battle for the title of chess champion. It's a meaningful competition that educators hope will help these kids make solid moves away from the board as well.

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"I want be in the book. I want to say Aryiana Coleman is a good chess champion," said third grader Aryiana Coleman, who has big plans.

Most of the 225 third and fourth graders battling it out for the chess champion trophy are just learning the game.

"What does it means when you say checkmate?" asked ABC7's Cecilia Vega.

"Uh, I forgot," said fourth grader Keymari Davis.

Even with the nail biting frustrations and the pressure to stay in the game, they all love it.

"Sometimes you just got to get your head in the game," said third grader Coleman.

"When you win your first trophy, it will get easier and easier to you," said fourth grader Devon Thomas.

It's not getting any easier for the five Oakland schools that competed in the tournament; they're in some of Oakland's toughest neighborhoods. But through the Berkeley Chess School, which teaches the game in 150 schools around the Bay Area, all the kids are learning chess in the classroom and teachers hope the skills they pick up at the chess board will eventually help pick up test scores.

On a much larger scale, chess teaches these kids discipline, concentration, and the consequences of your own actions. There could be some Bobby Fishers in the making. Berkeley Chess School president Elizabeth Shaughnessy is the 1970 Irish women's chess champion. She says that they are, after all, just kids.

"In terms of success in looking for Bobby Fisher, all we need to do is get them a love for the game," said Shaughnessy.

A love for the game, they seem to already have.

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