LAND O’LAKES — Lisa Levison never figured her son Joshua for a chess master.
She signed him up for chess camp two summers ago because it was the only camp she could find in the area that didn’t involve running and sports. Joshua suffered a hip ailment that put him in a wheelchair at the time.
“I thought he would be begging me to come home,” Levison recalled. “I couldn’t tear him away.”
Joshua loved the game so much, in fact, that his mom helped organized a chess club, complete with professional coaches from Chess Nuts in Tampa, for Pine View Elementary. In just its second year, the club is rated second in the state at the K-3 level, with nationally ranked Joshua the group’s acknowledged man to beat.
Five members of the club — second-graders Joshua, Mallory Payne, Jordan Payne and Hailey Nguyen, and third grader Hannah Morales — also are headed to the 2009 SuperNationals in Tennessee. The event, which takes place once every four years, is considered the Olympics of student chess.
Joshua, who likens chess to war on a board, can’t wait.
“I practice all the time,” he said. “I’m ready.”
On Thursday afternoon, the 45 chess club members gathered in their school media center for 90 minutes of pizza and practice.
Many of the kids fell into the game just as Joshua did.
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