Scholastic Chess Association hosts scholastic chess tournament


Aiden Leise

Students from all over Mississippi go head to head in the MSMS Scholastic Chess Tournament.

Aiden Leise, News Editor

The MSMS Scholastic Chess Tournament was held by the Mississippi Scholastic Chess Association (MSCA), attracting 69 students grades K-12 from multiple counties to compete.

MSCA is a K-12 scholastic affiliate of the United States Chess Federation, the governing body for chess players and organizers across the nation. MSCA holds multiple tournaments throughout the state, where children can receive an opportunity to practice the sport against players from outside their home school. This was the fourth year for the MSMS tournament, held in MUW’s Cochran Hall, and the tournament director, Jeff Bolhuis, feels that chess tournaments are important for the development of future chess players and thinkers.

“Chess is just a fantastic tool for introducing kids to these opportunities and developing their critical thinking skills,” Bolhuis said. “Sometimes, some of these kids get a spark (for chess) but don’t really know how to develop it, so I’m trying to help them in developing and getting to the next level, and the next level and so on.”

The tournament followed the rules of most youth chess tournaments, where each player begins the game with 25 minutes with a 10-second increment added on after each move, and the Swiss system of matching up competitors is used. Additionally, Bolhuis required players to record their games on paper, as studying previously played games is considered a massive learning advantage for chess players at any level.

The eventual winner of the highly competitive K-12 age division was Keyan Rahimi, a Sophomore at Starkville High School and current MSMS applicant.

MSMS had two representatives in the competition, senior Evan Stegall and junior Maxwell Dobbs, who finished second and fourth out of 15 in their age group, respectively. In addition to Stegall and Dobbs, students from the Columbus area attended the tournament, as well as a group of 18 students from Humphreys County, in the Delta.

“I think it’s great,” said Ashanti Black, the mother of two students at Annunciation Catholic School in Columbus participating in their second tournament. “It helps teach them about sportsmanship, requires them to think and pre-plan… so I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Students participating in the tournament also gave their thoughts of participating in tournaments.

“I like meeting new people and learning new strategies,” said Damion Martin, an 11th grader at Humphreys High School. “I like going to different campuses and learning about the different colleges (where tournaments are held).”

“I like the logical thinking that (chess) gives you to guess ahead of your opponent,” said Tyler Hung, another Humphreys HS student in the 10th grade currently in the MSMS application process.

The next tournaments to be held by MSCA are the Southern Scholastic Chess Tournament in Hattiesburg on March 7, and the MSCA Scholastic Chess TEAM Championships in Starkville on March 21.