Chess cool for thinking kids
Last updated 13:00 09/08/2013
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
Nayland College hosted an interschool regional chess tournament yesterday, with a bumper turnout of 164 keen young competitors suggesting that the traditional board game might be making a comeback, among even the coolest kids.
Friends Fabian Strauch, 11, and Roderick Morrison, 12, both learned to play chess under the tutelage of their fathers, and both honestly admit they have never beaten them - yet.
Roderick, of Nelson College Preparatory School, said he had played chess "since he could lift a piece". He liked the strategic board game because it "doesn't run on batteries", and you "don't need wi-fi" to play, like many computer games require these days.
Fabian said, frankly, "it's just a really good board game".
Nayland maths teacher Andrea Adair was charged with keeping the peace in the frantic chess hall, which hosted 539 individual matches between competitors from primary, intermediate, and secondary schools from across Nelson and Tasman.
Adair also organised a sausage sizzle fundraiser, with proceeds appropriately going towards the purchase of a giant chess set for the college.
"It feels like this is the revival of chess," she said.
"There are more than double the number of competitors as last year. It just shows that young people are not just about video games. Some kids do still want that mental challenge."
She said chess, a game of logic and strategy traditionally popular among males, was clearly also appealing to girls, who made up at least half of the competition.
Adair said all players were fair and put fun ahead of serious competition.
"It's great the academic kids have an opportunity to compete, and not at sports.
"It's not all about sports, and these kids really embrace it."
The tournament was brought to Nelson by Auckland company Chess Power, and was arbitrated by Bruce Pollard, who said Nelson's regional tournament was by far the most well-attended in the country.
"Nelson are over-achievers at chess," he said.
He said the top 20 players from each region would be invited to compete at the national championships in Auckland next month.
Ten-year-old Rosie Brazendale, of Motupipi Primary School in Takaka, said she was having heaps of fun, and it had been worth waking up at 6am to drive to Nelson.
Hira School's Chi Kavanagh, 10, went out of his way to thank the people who had organised the chess tournament, the first he'd ever taken part in."[Chess] helps your brain think," he said.
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