You might wonder how, in the ever-expanding empire of video games, an ancient board game can still attract players. But a group of ninth graders at Wilson Foundation Academy in the Rochester school district say there's nothing like the cerebral matches in chess.
The six-student Rochester team recently came in sixth in the U.S. Chess Federation 2013 SuperNationals. The tournament, which drew more than 5,300 students from all over the country, is the ultimate in scholastic chess competition.
Most members of the Rochester team, which consists of Peter Carter, Theodore Chapman, Sam Cherin, Webster Kehoe, Connor Wagner, and Patrick Phillips, began playing together when they were kindergarten students at Genesee Community Charter School. A couple of the boys had learned the rules before entering school. While at GCCS, the students had a morning period where they could chose an activity, and the team grew from there.
"You have to know how to strategize," says Peter Carter. "Every move has to be thought out and you have to think of every countermove from your opponent."
Numerous studies have shown that chess encourages cognitive development by sharpening memory and reasoning.
Rochester has a thriving chess community, says Michael Kehoe, Webster's father. Not only have their teachers and parents supported the students, he says, but there are coaches and master-level champion players in the Rochester area.
Enthusiasts of the 5,000 year old game will find local tournaments under way on most Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays, Kehoe says. Many of them are held at the Rochester Chess Center, 221 Norris Drive.