More than a game: Chess can help decision-making, forward thinking

November 13, 2008
By Donna Rettew Post-Tribune correspondent

CHESTERTON — It took just minutes for both queens to be lost during a game at a recent gathering of the Duneland Youth Chess Club, which has met Tuesdays at Chesterton’s Thomas Library since February 2006.

About 22 students attend each week to sharpen their skills and have fun, while learning strategies for success in chess and life.

Halfway into the game, Alyssa Szafasz, 13, of Westville moved her black bishop three spaces diagonally, then lost it to Jenna Sink’s white bishop.

Sink, 12, of Chesterton then moved her knight to take Szafasz’s pawn that had just taken her bishop.

Sink has been playing with the club for several years, since her parents taught her the basics. Her brothers, Regan, 9, and Julian, 5, also are club members.

“I enjoy the challenge of thinking hard and doing even better than I’m already doing,” she said.

Sink placed seventh in her division at a recent chess tournament.

Moving her queen one space forward, Szafasz said she attends the club so she can some day defeat her father. She recently won a trophy in the form of a ship after playing a tournament on a family cruise to Belize.

“I played adults and won first place,” she said. “They told me I was really good and should keep at it.”

After bringing their knights into play, Jenna’s queen finally captured her opponent’s queen, prompting Szafasz’s knight to take Sink’s queen.

With severely depleted ranks, the girls continued their game, eliminating one piece after another, until Szafasz won the contest and the bragging rights but only until the next game started a few minutes later.

Club organizer and instructor Nick Groenewegen of Chesterton oversees the games each week. He is a retired international banking executive with roots in Rotterdam, Holland. He is also a chess expert.

“Chess has been instrumental in my personal development and a great help in everything I’ve done in my life,” Groenewegen said. “It’s something I wanted to give back to the children.”

Here is the full article.

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