Bainbridge youth put their chess skills to the test at Willis Park

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Aaron Mosely picked up a pawn and moved it a square forward toward Jamil Tucker’s knight.

Not so fast.

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Tucker moved in with a rook and snatched away Mosely’s pawn before it could do any damage to his side of the board.

This game and others were spread across a dozen tables Tuesday morning at Willis Park. Kids ‘n Kops and the local middle school chess clubs came together for a few hours to practice their game and enjoy snacks and drinks on the downtown scene.

“It’s challenging,” said Tucker, 14, who learned to play at the beginning of the summer and has slowly gotten better since. “I like to go against people that are better than me so I can see if I can beat them. It will make me better.”

Mosely, 13, has only one thing on his mind when playing.

“I just like beating people,” he said.

Bainbridge and Hutto middle schools have been hosting chess clubs for the past school year. It started when teacher David Mackie joined the school district a couple years ago and brought the game with him into the classroom.

To Mackie, chess teaches all the critical thinking skills he wants to see from his students in the classroom.

“Patience, planning, sacrifice, calculation,” said Mackie. “All the things we want them to do in the classroom, they can do it on that board. And not just the board, but they can apply it to everyday life. A lot of people miss that point. There are a lot of lessons in this game.”

Twenty-four kids came out to enjoy chess in Willis Park. Some players, like Asia Martin, 15, find the game difficult, but appreciate the lessons it teaches. Martin believes the critical thinking skills she developed while learning the game will help her in the real world, like when she is looking for a job.

That’s the whole goal Mackie, Bainbridge Public Safety officer Kenneth Ellison, HMS teacher Chad Smith and others are working toward.

“I think we got the children on the track of thinking critically,” Mackie said. “It’s a beautiful game, something they will be able to pass on to their children.”

Mackie hopes to bring chess to Willis Park on Saturday mornings, where adults and kids alike can enjoy the game together.