Youth chess scene aims to teach kids critical thinking skills

Published 5:09 pm Friday, June 24, 2016

Studies have shown for years that chess has multiple benefits for kids. It improves concentration and memory, enhances reading and math skills and encourages logic, critical thinking and creativity.

Bainbridge is looking to mix a little fun into the mix as well.

Tuesday, BPS officers will be holding a three and a half hour chess gathering at Willis Park, where kids who know how to play or are looking to learn can spend the morning testing their skills.

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BPS officer Kenneth Ellison, who is affiliated with Kids ‘n Kops, started the chess club at Hutto Middle School and will be one of the adults teaching chess and competing Tuesday morning from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

“It’s a game of critical thinking,” Ellison said. “You have to think before they take a move, and be very strategic taking that move. It’s the same thing in life. Kids have to make their own decisions, and be very critical making them.”

Ellison learned to play chess by watching others. He was intrigued and became hooked on the game not long after, he said. Since moving to Bainbridge, he hasn’t been able to play as often as he likes, but leading the chess club has given him the opportunity to play every chance he gets.

Century 21 in Bainbridge worked with Ellison to bring a chess club to Hutto last year. What started with just a few players turned into a consistent 15-20 kids meeting after school to play. They teamed up to play against the chess club at Bainbridge Middle School, led by teacher David Mackey.

Now they are bringing the game to downtown this summer, and are hoping to make it a recurring event.

“That’s what we are trying to do—get more kids,” Ellison said. “It’s Saturday, we can ride downtown and play chess on the square if we choose. Once it becomes repetitious, they can go there and just play.”

Ellison said any and all kids are welcome, and adults who want to teach the game are invited, too.

Board and pieces will be provided and games will be played on the tables set up at Willis Park.