February 3, 2018 Academics

Perry Creek Students Embrace Chess Club

Two dozen students spread throughout a Perry Creek Elementary School room Thursday, eyes down, focused on a board with 64 squares and a variety of pawns, rooks, bishops, the powerful queen and of course the coveted king.

Theytook a break to listen to Chess Club founder Jason Gann, gesturing at a few scenarios projected onto a white board.

“Is there any place for this king to go, and not be in check?” Gann asked.

Third-grader Earl Phetteplace was among those eagerly offering an option, which he showed with a marker on the board after leaving his spot.

“Ah, ha. I like Earl’s move,” Gann responded.

A bit later, Gann worked through a back-rank checkmate scenario on the board: “Everybody see it? Anybody not see it?”

He added, “You can go from winning the game to losing the game in one play, so you have to be careful on the sequence.”

Since October, Gann and Perry Creek students in third through fifth grades have gathered early on Thursdays for 45 minutes before the start of school to take part in Chess Club. Gann thought there could be some good lessons from the methodical and thoughtful approach to playing chess, so he pitched school officials on starting the club.

The school Parent Teacher Association lined up the 40 chess boards and pieces, and pupil numbers have held strong most Thursdays. A big core of pupils return every week, while some newcomers like Will Bertrand peppered in their participation in the spring semester.

“I wouldn’t say I am the best, but I think I am OK…It is fun to play logic-thinking games like this,” said Bertrand, a fourth-grader.

by Bret Hayworth