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Elementary Chess Champs

By Todd Martin


With quiet assurance, a pair of siblings at Hay Branch Elementary School is compiling an impressive stoChamps re of medals from their chess tournaments.

Third-grader Fredrick Clarke and second-grader Fredaya Clarke, as well as their older sister Rancier Middle School eighth-grader Raelyn Clarke recently returned from the Super Nationals Chess Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

Fredaya finished 305th and Fredrick finished 324th out of more than 6,000 competitors. 

The two younger Clarkes just took up the challenging game a year ago.

They have honed their skills by practicing in weekly chess team meetings at nearby Rancier Middle School.

“They constantly practice,” said Nezzie Moffett, the children’s grandmother and a secretary at Rancier Middle School. “They have learned a lot from (chess) coach (Darieck) Foster. They are dedicated to it.”Champ 1

“It’s a challenging brain game,” Fredrick Clarke said, explaining why he likes it. “You have to strategize and think.”

The two young players have twice competed at the state tournament and this year qualified to go to Nashville, their first trip to the national event. 

“You have to think about what you have to do to win,” the third-grade competitor explained. “You get better with practice.”

Both children said they like math, but didn’t think that was a requirement for excelling at the game of strategy.Champ 2

They both said they hoped more children their age would take up chess and compete in city tournaments.

“They are getting critical thinking skills and learning strategy,” Moffett said. “They also learn self-esteem.” 

She said her grandchildren maintain positive attitudes whether they win or lose and have learned that there is always another match and with it a chance to improve.

 “It was an exciting adventure,” she said of the trip to Nashville. “They came home with a medal that says they wouldn’t give up.”

May 24, 2017