Middle and High School Chess Club Competes in Springfield Tournament


Nate Brigman

On Saturday, February 9, the Fair Grove Chess Club competed in a tournament that took place at the South Side Senior Center in Springfield, MO. The tournament was set up and coordinated by the Southwest Missouri Scholastic Chess League, and was open to both Middle and High School members of the club.

High school math teacher and Chess Club sponsor Michael Van Cleave stated, “The league consists of chess clubs from Fair Grove, Weller Elementary, Summit Preparatory Academy, the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield, and the Springfield Park Board.”

Mr. Van Cleave then explained, “All the tournaments we have attended this year have been similar in format.  Players compete in 4-5 rounds of ‘blitz’ chess, which means the games are on a timer, and can last a maximum of 20 minutes (10 minutes total for each player). Pairings are done through a computer program that pairs winners with winners, etc.

Senior Brad Shaffer, member of the Chess Club, competed in the tournament. He stated, “I did fairly well but made some small mistakes and lost one round, so overall I did well but could have done better.’

To prepare for tournaments and play against their friends, Chess Club members meet every Tuesday from 3-4 to hone their skills and meet fellow students who enjoy playing chess. Mr. Van Cleave does see improvements in the student’s chess skills when they attend the weekly meetings. He noted, “I think weekly practices help, especially when the kids try to challenge themselves by playing someone that might be better than them.”

The Fair Grove Chess Club is midway through a series of Southwest Missouri Scholastic Chess League tournaments. The next tournament will take place here at Fair Grove on Thursday, March 28 from 4:30-6:30 PM.