LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The first Louisville Scholastic Chess Open was held Saturday at the University of Louisville.
The event, hosted by the Cleveland and Louisville chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and sponsored by JCPS, welcomed dozens of kids to UofL for a day-long chess tournament.
College scholarships and job internships were on the line for the top competitors, as well as door prizes, electronic devices and gift cards for others competing.
Tony Dunlap, Area Director of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity in Northeast Ohio, says that the event is great not only for the prizes, but also because of the skills the game of chess can help develop.
"Life skills—decision making and choices. One of the things, when I teach my chess class, I try to teach the kids every choice and decision you make has a consequence. You control the decisions and the choice, you can't control the consequences or what happens, so you need to think about those choices. And kids are actually presented with so many different options today that they really do have to take their time, slow down and process it. If I do this, this could be the outcome and make the best decision on that, because in chess that's exactly what you have to do, before you capture a piece, before you make a move, you've got to determine whether it's a good move for you or not, but in life you've got to do that every single day in life,” Dunlap said.
Rona Williams, whose 13-year-old son Jovon competed in the tournament, echoed Dunlap's praise for the game when it comes to developing the mind.
Williams says that while sports are great positive outlets for kids, the game of chess is something different that can help kids grow in other ways.
"The exposure of chess, you know, it's educational, patient, it's a thinking game, and with that being said, if I was having him home we'd probably be laying in bed asleep eating a bowl of cereal, so, it gives him a great thing to exercise his mind,” Williams said.
This same event will be held next weekend in Cleveland for the sixth year in a row, and Dunlap says they plan on bringing the event back to Louisville next year.
Alpha Phi Alpha hopes that these events and the continued partnership between the Cleveland and Louisville chapters can help form the foundation for the expansion of scholastic chess throughout the Midwest and the fraternity's chapters nationwide.