Imagine putting 89 children in a room together. Picture them grabbing seats at long tables and looking around at each other.
Can you just hear the cacophony?
St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plymouth hosted a Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation chess tournament Saturday, and the 89 participants, from kindergarten through high school, defied every stereotype.
“All you can hear is the pieces moving,” said Michael Altman, tournament coordinator and leader of the St. John the Baptist chess club.
Altman started the club when his son, Eric, a sophomore at St. Mary’s Springs High School in Fond du Lac, was in eighth grade at St. John the Baptist.
“He’s been playing since he was in kindergarten and we started getting into it,” Altman said. “I started (the club) here and I enjoy doing it and I’ve got a lot of really younger kids who really enjoy it.”
The WSCF sponsors the tournaments — 29 during the 2008-09 season — all over southeast Wisconsin at participating schools. Only two competitions are left this season: Supernationals in Nashville in April and the Wisconsin State Championships in Wisconsin Dells April 18 and 19.
In between the six rounds of competition on Saturday, players retired to the school’s cafeteria with their parents, or roamed the halls of the school with friends.
While they waited for the standings from Round 4 to be posted, members of the Milkie family from DePere passed the time by playing — what else? — chess.
Four of the family’s five brothers were in the tournament. Ryan, Aaron, Benjamin and Evan amused themselves while 11-year-old Nathan practiced his moves with dad, Dale, as mom, Karen, kept watch.
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