Hampton library hosting 47th annual chess tournament

Monday, February 10, 2020 | 12:01 AM

The 47th annual chess tournament sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chess Club will be held at 10 a.m. March 7 at the Hampton Township Community Center on McCully Road.

The event is being hosted by Hampton Community Library.

Participants are to arrive at 9:30 a.m. and can register through March 5 in person at the Hampton library, said Suzanna Krispli, director of Hampton Community Library.

There will be a junior division for grades kindergarten through fourth grade, and a senior division for fifth through eighth grades.

Hampton library hosted the countrywide program several times in the past, said Krispli. There are several competitions being held at other locations in the Pittsburgh area. A full schedule is on www.Pittsburghcc.org.

“Other libraries are participating as well. It’s our hope that if your local library is full, you can come play at any of the other libraries,” Krispli said. “Last year, we held the tournament with 20 children participating.”

Participants may register in one tournament only, she said. Players should bring their own chess set and a snack. The event will take place in the Hampton Community Center Great Rooms; caregivers are welcome to wait in the library.

Players don’t need a lot of experience to compete in the local tournaments, said Jerry Meyers, a member of the Pittsburgh Chess Club who coordinates the event.

The main thing is that they know all the rules and can play without assistance, he said.

“The skill level of players in these tournaments tends to vary quite a bit. The winners are often kids who have played for several years, but you don’t have to win the tournament to have fun,” said Meyers.

There are numerous benefits from a child learning to play chess, including teaching them how to focus and observe what’s happening in front of them. They need to visualize a sequence of actions before it happens and think ahead, said Meyers.

Players learn how to evaluate the results of actions and sequences. It helps them think abstractly, Meyers said, taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, planning and judging multiple considerations simultaneously.

While none of these skills is specific to chess, they are all part of the game, said Meyers.

“The beauty of chess as a teaching tool is that it stimulates children’s minds and helps them to build these skills while enjoying themselves,” said Meyers, who is a chess master. “As a result, children become more critical thinkers, better problem solvers, and more independent decision makers.”

Meyers, who lives in the Squirrel Hill/Greenfield area, said he’s watched competitors as young as 4 play and defeat players twice their age.

He noted that children vary much in their emotional and cognitive development. By second grade, most kids can learn without much trouble, but others are ready earlier, he said.

Meyers suggests a phone app called Dinosaur Chess that teaches young children to play.

The Pittsburgh Chess Club has roots going back to the late 1800s and remains committed to serving the needs of chess players in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, according to the organization’s website.

Prizes include trophies to the top two players in each division and certificates for all participants. First-place winners from each library are invited to the finals. All winners’ names will be posted online.

The final tournament date and location haven’t been decided, but it most likely will be on a Saturday near the end of March or in early April. Entry to the finals is by invitation only and will be mailed to winners of individual tournaments. Results from the finals tournament will be submitted to the U.S. Chess Federation for rating.

Funding for the Pittsburgh Chess Club comes from various sources, including the Grable Foundation and the Frick Educational Fund of the Buhl Foundation.