New Children’s Chess Class In Newington Is Popular
By CHRISTOPHER HOFFMAN, Special to the Courant
The Hartford Courant
7:33 p.m. EDT, October 9, 2012
NEWINGTON —— Instead of killing aliens in video games, a group of local children will be maneuvering queens, knights and bishops to attack their opponents.
At the new chess class at the Lucy Robbins Welles Library, 19 children will meet every Thursday for six weeks to learn openings, absorb strategy and practice their game.
Logan Bendon, 9, and his 7-year-old sister Brooke have started playing chess every day.
“I think it’s a unique game,” said Logan, who said he knew how to play before the class. “It’s kind of like a kingdom. I came here to learn technique.”
Response to the free class was so great the library had to turn some children away, said Pat Pierce, head of the library’s children’s department. Based on the response, she expects to the library to schedule another class.
During class, as children ranging from kindergarten age to fourth grade settle into their chairs, instructor Alexander Lumelsky stands before a large hanging chessboard and goes over basic openings. He reviews the Italian and Spanish openings, having the children map out moves on their boards.
“Try to concentrate on completing the development,” Lumelsky said. “I know you all want to attack. Try to develop and you’ll have more options. A queen by herself cannot win.”
Lumelsky, who was born in Russia, the epicenter of the chess world, is a West Hartford immigration lawyer whose grandfather taught him to play chess when he was 3. Once a tournament player, he gave up the game about 20 years ago.
Lumelsky taught his son to play, and then last year agreed to coach his son’s chess team at Bugbee Elementary School in West Hartford. They won a tournament.
Lumelsky’s interest in the game was renewed, and he has started teaching chess classes in Bloomfield and Farmington as well as Newington. Next month, he will teach a class at Hartford Public Library.
Lumelsky’s long-term goal is to start his own chess instruction studio.
“If you go to a chess club, you can play, but if someone teaches you, that’s a rarity,” Lumelsky said. “I’ve seen kids who’ve played chess for three or four years and they know nothing. There’s definitely a demand.”
For Vishal Kuttin, 11, and his brother, Vrisan, 7, who are both taking the class, Chess something fun and challenging to do when they are bored.
“It’s a strategy game,” Vishal said. “It helps calm my mind.”
Daniel Wojnarowski, 8, took a moment between matches to say he prefers chess to video games. He said he likes chess because it’s fun and he usually wins.
“Sometimes when you play video games, your eyes hurt and the computer will get slow because of viruses,” Daniel said.
Jim Clerkin said he brought his 6-year-old daughter, Lindsay, to the class so she could experience new things.
“I think chess is a good thing,” he said. “I think it helps planning and strategy. You have to think ahead.”
The class is free. Players are allowed to bring chess sets home that are provided by the Friends of the Lucy Robbins Welles Library, Pierce said.
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