SOUTHAVEN — The clicking sound of chess pieces being moved around chess boards by more than 540 players filled the air at the BankPlus Training Center in Southaven Wednesday.
“It’s intellectual calisthenics,” Emily Nelson, Executive Director of Leadership Development for the DeSoto County School District, said Wednesday of the two-day chess tournament at the BankPlus Training Center in Southaven.
Every school in the district, except for one, DeSoto Central Elementary, is represented in the chess tournament.
“Every child plays five rounds of chess,” Nelson explained. “They had to eliminate students in their own schools to get there.”
Nelson, the 2011 Mississippi Association for Gifted Children Conference Award winner, said chess is much more than a parlor game or the sport of kings and diplomats.
“There are a lot of reasons to teach chess,” Nelson said. “It’s a lesson in leadership development. The king alone can do nothing. It takes teamwork. It’s also an opportunity to learn a certain level of decorum. In life, you have to learn how to win and how to lose. Life goes on.”
Chess gives students from all walks of life to be on an equal intellectual plane.
“I had a parent tell me that this (chess tournament) is Little League for nerds,” Nelson said. “I’m not so sure I agree with that but it’s an opportunity to have an opportunity to have a team environment without athletics.”
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– GM Susan Polgar