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School Spotlight: Myers Park Traditional School

Young Master Chess holds chess clubs and chess instruction at elementary schools all over the area. This week's school spotlight is on Myers Park Traditional School in Charlotte!

Myers Park has the distinction of being the very first Young Master Chess school to have a chess program - they've been learning chess for the past 14 years! Their students are also fortunate to receive chess instruction during the day in-school and they have a before-school club for players who would like extra practice.

At this club meeting, right at the beginning of club FIDE Master Mike Klein welcomed club members with a few warm up puzzles as the rest of the group arrived. The first puzzle was a bank rank checkmate puzzle - Black sacrificed his queen, but ended up with the ability to make a bank rank checkmate!

The group split into 2 groups. Coach Klein ran a puzzle contest activity where everyone had to write down their puzzle answers...and really think in advance. Every turn, students needed to consider checks & captures, then choose the best move! This was also a chance to practice a little chess notation, as each student had to write down the moves. The group took some time to think about what move they would make, then individually proposed an idea and discussed together as a group to decide what logic went in to each decision and ultimately what the best move would be.

On the other side of the room, National Master Chris Mabe worked on a teaching board with the K-2 group. Today's lesson was appropriate for the recent chilly weather - introducing the "Snow Plow!" The "Steamroller!" The "Pawn Roller!" This idea has many fun names, but the concept is to figure out how to get 2 pawns in the middle of the board then "roll" them all the way to the other side. Once the pawns can make it all the way across the board, they can put the opponent's king in danger. The group worked together practicing "rolling" 2 middle pawns down the board - protecting each other and moving the opponent's pieces out of the way.

After the lessons came a chance for both groups to divide up for some over the board chess. Everyone had the option to participate in a ladder game if they wanted to, moving up through wins each week.

Boards and pieces came out, good sportsmanship handshakes were in order, and the older group had the additional challenge today of notating their games - so notation sheets and pencils came out too! Chess boards and players spread throughout the media center and games began.

Notation is a great practice skill for a few reasons: you'll be more comfortable during tournament games when notation is necessary, you'll be carefully considering your moves before actually making them on the board, and you'll have a written record of your game that you can take to your coach to review!

Ending club today was a special award presentation - throughout the entire month of November, Young Master Chess has been holding an online puzzle contest - with t-shirts on the line for the top 3 student puzzle solvers across all YMC schools. This morning included an extra special prize - as one of the Myers Park players far and away solved more puzzles than any other YMC student. Congratulations to Arjun, who took home a special trophy as a reward!