Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sheboygan's Chess in the Park Hopes to Grow Future GMs

My chess buddy, Ellen Wanek!  Give a shout-out and a hearty round of applause, please!

Article from The Sheboygan Press Online

Of kings, queens and castles: Chess in the Park helps children improve game during summer

11:36 PM, Jul 13, 2012

There's no doubt in Ellen Wanek's mind the popularity of chess has grown in local schools.

So to continue students' excitement about the strategy-filled board game during the summer months, Wanek, the chess coach at four area schools, began a weekly club known as Chess in the Park. Each Monday from 6 to 8 p.m., elementary, middle and high school chess club members bring their families and friends to Vollrath Park to play chess.

Wanek — the chess coach at Lake Country Academy, Lincoln-Erdman Elementary School, Horace Mann Middle School and Sheboygan Christian School — said she promotes chess as much as possible because of the mental development it creates in children who play. She said research has shown that chess improves students' IQ, math skills, reading skills, critical thinking skills and it develops memory.

"But here's something really special," Wanek said. "Chess develops into your thinking that you actually think through the consequences of all your actions. At tournaments, when kids are under a lot of pressure, they're able to develop a sense of self-control and discipline, where they think through the consequences of a multitude of different choices. That's life-changing in the lives of children."

The large crowd (about 30 people usually play each week) at Chess in the Park this past Monday night included players of all ages, between 4 and 61 years old, and was a promising sight for local chess enthusiasts, like Plymouth High School chess coach Stephan Des Moulin.

"There's a lot of schools here in Sheboygan that are getting a good following in the chess clubs," Des Moulin said. "There are some pretty talented young players."

Students from all different schools have a chance to connect at Chess in the Park, along with their parents and siblings. Des Moulin said it's a good way to get kids to view chess as a fun activity, rather than a school-only activity.

(For instance:) Avinash Murthy, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Lake Country Academy, has been playing chess since he was 3. His grandfather taught him how to play, and this past school year he played competitively as a part of his school's newly formed chess club.

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