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Students sharpen their planning, focus and creative thinking skills during Chess at JRHS

By Cheryl Crawford, Staff

Our Jan term classes are a time for students to learn a new skill without the pressure of a grade. They are experiential and students glean soft skills often without realizing. Chess is one of those Jan term classes which seems like all fun and games but offers critical thinking, problem solving, time management and the added bonus of learning enough strategy to best your Chess teacher.

This January we had six students accept the challenge. They ranged in skill level from beginner to advanced. Mr. Hannah led them through basic moves and strategies of offensive and defensive play. Students developed quick thinking while utilizing the chess clock and challenged each other as their knowledge and skills of the game improved. Students learned that the center of the board is a strategic principle not to be ignored and that keeping your King protected takes a lot of thought and planning.

A highlight of the class according to one student, Nate Archambault who considers himself an average player, is speed chess where players are given less time than normal to consider their moves. The benefit of blitz chess, as it is often called, is improvement in student focus and decision making skill. Isaiah Cross also enjoyed playing and learning about chess. He was pleased with how his game improved after learning different methods of checkmating. Another chess student, Nate Croley, an intermediate player, found playing chess at the end of the day with fellow students to be relaxing. He appreciated the time to refine his skill and was inspired to dig deeper into the concept of chess openings which simply put is the initial move of the game. Learning different chess openings can improve your game and increase your chances of winning. James Song tried approaching chess from a different angle. To improve his game, he considered his opponent's moves, and made predictions to determine his own. This strategy requires logical thinking and takes the game from a one-sided perspective to a two sided perspective. Considering an opponent’s best possible response before you make your move leads to a stronger move and more wins.

Overall, the students enjoyed this popular Jan term class while quietly sharpening their planning, focus and creative thinking skills. The class ended triumphantly with one student checkmating the teacher. Way to go!

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