Slight clicking noises from time clocks and fast scribbles on paper were the only sounds heard in the Carver Recreation Center’s gymnasium Saturday as people of all ages plotted their next move.
Their next chess move that is.
A group of about 20-30 people showed up to the facility around 7:45-8 a.m. to register and sign-in to Carver’s first National Chess Day Tournament, which started at 9 a.m. and went on well into the afternoon.
Wenny Elrod, project director for HEAL Appalachia and worker for Carver Recreation said despite a few technical difficulties, their first tournament was going well.
“We’ve had a real good response from the community,” Elrod said. “Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. I think it’s kind of a relaxed atmosphere when you can come in and play rated or unrated and there’s no pressure.”
She said the tournament had a good mix of both unrated players playing for fun and rated players, who were playing to increase their mastery level on the national circuit.
The tournament had a total of four 30-minute rounds and tournament organizers used the Swiss system to pair up each of the players.
“That gives everyone an opportunity to play people that they’re well-suited or matched against,” Elrod said.
Sheldon Kappel, a Science Hill High School student and tournament competitor, has been playing chess since he was in the third grade and said his dad, Igor, who was also playing Saturday, taught him everything he knows.
“My dad is a chess fanatic. He played a lot in college and he kind of just passed it on to me,” Kappel said. “We play each other all the time. Now I’m starting to beat him, too.”
He said he enjoys playing in chess tournaments and also appreciates the skills like planning in advance and thinking through the best possible choice, that he’s acquired from playing.
“Chess can help you a lot in life later on,” Kappel said. “It helps you develop thinking skills.”
There seemed to be a family theme at the tournament as siblings and parents competed in the rounds.
Marjorie Louis was excited to see her three children, Dequintice, 13, Xamaria, 9, and Mary, 6 ,compete.
“They’re doing pretty good, so I’m proud. I’m very proud,” Louis said.
She said chess was a game she has always been interested in and was happy to see her kids take interest in it after learning to play at Carver Recreation.
“I thought it was cool that they actually took the time to teach small children how they can play chess,” she said. “I’m just glad for the Carver Recreation and all of the things that they do in the community and for the children and the parents as well.”
Playing as an unrated player Saturday, Bill Maxwell decided to try his luck after a friend told him about the tournament.
Waiting to play in the next round, he said he was having a good time.
“It’s a fun game,” Maxwell said. “I must have stopped for about 10 years and I just started back.”
He said that the competition in the tournament was pretty tough, but said he liked playing for the community aspect of it.
“If they had one every week, I’d come down every week,” Maxwell said. “It’s hard to find people in the city to play chess with and then with something like this you have a place to meet other chess players.”
The winners of the tournament Saturday were broken down into seven categories and were awarded trophies.
The first-place winners included:
- K-3, Ellie Nath.
- K-6 rated, Jeremy Burns.
- K-6 unrated, Connor Goulds.
- K-12 rated, David Simonsen.
- K-12 unrated, Bowen Sun.
- Adult rated, Rafael Vazquez.
- Adult unrated, Lucas Barry.
For information on the Carver Chess Club and other upcoming chess tournaments at the recreation center, call Carver at 461-8830 or 461-8831 or visit the parks and recreation website at www.johnsoncitytn.org/parksrec/.