There were 200 kids in a high school hallway, yet you could have heard a pin drop. They were nearly silent; focused, concentrating.
Welcome to the Cherry Creek School District Chess Tournament, held Feb. 28 at Overland High School. It’s an unrated, entry-level tournament that is the second-largest scholastic tournament in the state. For more than 20 years, it has attracted young chess players from kindergarten through high school. This year, Regina del Rio, a sixth-grader from Falcon Creek Middle School, was one of the players.
“I play because my dad showed me how and it’s really fun,” del Rio said before her first of five matches. “I like the challenge of trying to win.”
So does her first opponent, Seth Wilkerson, who’s also in the sixth grade at Falcon Creek.
“It’s fun trying to think ahead of your opponent,” said Wilkerson. “I like chess because it takes time out of your day. You’re never bored.”
The tournament director is Todd Bardwick, a National Chess Master, five-time Denver Chess Champion and past president of the Colorado Chess Association. He is a nationally-renowned chess instructor and organizes several chess leagues, tournaments and camps. He says chess is a positive activity for children.
“It helps with analytical thinking, critical decision-making skills and time management,” Bardwick said.
Parents of students playing in the tournament agree.
“I like them using their head and the mental strategy,” said Steve Kibbee, whose fourth-grade twin sons played in the tournament. “They play a lot of sports, so it’s good to mix it up.”
“Her main passion is math, and math and chess go together,” said Indira Kini about her daughter Anjalie, an eighth-grader at the Challenge School who took first place in the middle school division. “It really taxes your brain. That’s why I like her playing chess.”
Congratulations to the CCSD Chess Tournament Champions!
• Kindergarten - Paxton Dabasinskas
• First Grade - Ani Gadepalli
• Second Grade - Ethan Lou
• Third Grade - Vedanth Sampath
• Fourth Grade - Eshaan Palanati
• Fifth Grade - Pranav Maddali
• Middle School - Anjalie Kini
• High School - Sam Cohen
For complete results from the tournament and more information about chess leagues and tournaments, visit http://www.coloradomasterchess.com/cherrycreek.htm.