Life lessons among victories at Louisville chess tournament

Louisville Scholastic Chess Tournament gives victories, life lessons

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s said that thinking ahead in chess is the key to success, but judging from the slightly nervous faces of some of the tournament’s youngest competitors--the forethought is the toughest part.

“I’ll like see my opponent at the table and I’ll be like is he good, he looks good,” Charlie Franck said.

Players deep in thought at the tournament.
Players deep in thought at the tournament. (WAVE 3 News)

While that may be the initial concern, when the student players start picking up, and picking off, pawns, an ounce of fear turns into a force of focus.

“My plan for checkmate. Mostly all the time I’m thinking of my plan for checkmate,” competitor Bacari Ellis said.

Electronics, scholarships and even internships are on the line.

“Kids get pumped,” organizer Tony Dunlap said. “You’d get pumped up if you had a chance to win something.”

Organizers of the 2nd annual Alpha Phi Alpha Louisville Scholastic Chess Tournament said they want to offer kindergartners to college students prizes—but also opportunities.

“Every move you make on that chess board provides consequences that you have to deal with,” organizer Kevin Cowherd said.

As that struggle against error is won or lost move-by-move, its clear each player is facing off with the biggest of opportunities.

“I didn’t really know what to do at first, but now I’ve got the hang of it,” Ellis said.

He added that he’s seen a lot of progress.

Some, like Franck, have been training for years.

“I’m told that I’m pretty good at it,” Franck said.

Lessons that yield skills and self confidence.

“I can use my mind to do something,” Franck said.

Chess pieces ready for battle at the tournament.
Chess pieces ready for battle at the tournament. (WAVE 3 News)

But, some said it also instills a calculated sense of modesty because, after all, even a pawn can take down a queen.

“You can’t just make one move in the spur of the moment, you have to think ahead,” Cowherd said.

He added, like life, things don’t always go your way.

“There’s no real losses,” Cowherd said. “There’s just lessons. You learn every time you play.”

So, those with their kings on the run today – may, soon, be among those yelling checkmate tomorrow.

The Urban League’s West Louisville Chess Club was among the groups participating in the tournament today.

JCPS also sponsored the event.

This is the second tournament that the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has hosted. They hope to eventually create a grand prix style tourmanent between five cities--Cleveland, Louisville, St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago – and offer the winner $100,000 to attend the college or university of their choice.

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