“You can move away, capture, you can block.” Chess Master Ramon Lorente explained these three options to students during a recent Chess Club meeting when he displayed cut-outs of chess pieces on a large board.
The W.L. Morse students are only in second grade, yet they understand the concepts of check and checkmate and they eagerly came up to the board with a suggestion for the next move.
First and second-graders in the Chess Club meet once a week during their lunch periods and receive a chess lesson from Lorente. Then they play a game with another student sitting at their desks.
“Chess teaches critical thinking skills and decision making,” said Lorente. “They have to make a decision, a choice and live with the consequences.”
Lorente started playing chess as a child in his native Cuba. He enjoys the competitive aspect of the game and as an instructor for the National Scholastic Chess Foundation, he encourages students with the desire and ability to compete in tournaments. “Chess is a great tool to stimulate the brain. Children also learn if they fail, they can try again.”
“My favorite piece is the rook,” explained second-grader Lucas Juhn, as he played with a friend. “It has a lot of power. It can move anywhere.”
The club has been existence at Morse for 20 years. Students enroll in the club to participate and the PTA provides scholarships for eligible students.