As I recall the memories of my childhood, I am drawn to the relationship I had with my father, cemented by the game of chess. I remember from an early age how hectic our daily life was. Dad was setting up his medical practice and my mom was left to mind my brother and me. Though he tried, dad was, in my mind, never home or if he was, he was so tired he went right to sleep.
Soon my sister joined the family. Now things were really chaotic. I think I was about 8 when dad brought home a chess board and said let me teach you how to play. My brother was 5 and soon lost interest, but I jumped at the chance to be with dad and learn the game. I remember trying to hurry up and finish dinner, wash the dishes (a weekly chore) and, if he was home rushing up to the den to play chess.
As the years rolled on, I became a good chess player. Lots of terrific matches until I was finally able to beat him. I think I was 14 years old. Regardless, the hours we spent together were priceless. I remember him saying, “have you really thought about that move” or “see the whole board” or “have you planned 5 moves ahead”. All of this helped me develop an ability to think critically.
More than that, we spent hours together. We collected different chess boards from all over the world – a real geography lesson. We followed Bobby Fischer, the greatest American chess master as he captured the world championship. My dad is 93 years old and we still play whenever we get together. Our chess bond has lasted 60 years.
On that note many of you know that we have added a chess club at BCD. The “Chess Wizards” meet for six weeks each trimester on Tuesday after school from 3:15-4:30. We have a wide range of students from Pre-k- 6th grade. Introducing chess at an early age is incredibly beneficial for many reasons. Studies have been done in the past few decades that demonstrate that chess helps students improve their grades, specifically in Math and Science. It also helps increase their self-esteem, memory, problem solving ability and their ability to focus.
Plus it is just plain fun! Regardless of a child’s skill, the chess club is designed to create a life-long love of the “Game of Kings”. We invite you to drop by on Tuesdays to see it in action!
- Phil Demartini
Elementary School Director