Your Move

Your Move Lucas Zimmerman, 10, watches as his opponent, Paul Granaas, 10, makes his move during their chess match. Both are fourth-graders at Jolley Elementary School. by David Lias Want to learn about life?

Try protecting your king without losing your queen and bishops in the process.

Look for opportunity to use one of your pawns in taking en-passant.

Use strategy to ultimately win by achieving a checkmate.

These are just some of the lessons of chess, according to Mark Derby of the USD Chess Club.

With the end of holiday activities and spring still a couple months away, this is one of the best times for young people to learn and play the game, Derby said.

The chess club has begun its annual outreach activities to local students interested in mastering the game.

"Last year, we did this for almost all of the school year," Derby said. "This year, we've coordinated the outreach more with the 'chess season,' which is winter, when the kids can't always go out and play."

Derby and other chess club members, including Mark Hansen, a former president of the club, and school board member Michael Granaas, are helping out with the outreach effort.

The club members offer after-school lessons to 25 St. Agnes students in the school gym. Similar lessons are presented to the same number of Jolley Elementary students on Tuesday afternoons in that school's library.

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Derby noted that the outreach isn't limited to students in those two schools. Younger kids from Austin Elementary are welcome to participate, as are youth from Vermillion Middle School.

He knows the game can be troubling at times, especially to a young person just learning how to play.

"What can be frustrating is when you are playing people and always losing," Derby said. "We try to emphasize to kids to just have fun."

Chess club members have worked to develop a curriculum that both teaches the basic rules of the game and emphasizes sportsmanship.

"The exciting part about chess is finding those relationships between the pieces ? finding those connections and how the pieces move," Derby said. "There's a lot of dynamics."

Students will have a chance to test their chess skills at the Coyote Classic Chess Tournament, scheduled Jan. 17, at the Coyote Student Center on the USD campus.

The tournament format is:

Open section (rated)

Four round SS Game in 60 minutes. Round times: 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Prize money will be awarded for first, second, third, biggest upset and first under 1400.

Open section (unrated)

Four round SS Game in 45 minutes. Round times: 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Awards will be available for first, second and third.

Youth Reserve Section (rated) (K-5)

Five round SS Game in 45 minutes. Round times: 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Individual trophies for first, second and third place, with trophies and medals for the top two teams.

Youth Premier Section (rated) (K-12)

Five round SS Game in 45 minutes. Round times: 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m. Individual trophies for first, second and third with trophies and medals for the top two teams.

Registration for the tournament begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Students from several area schools have already signed up to compete.

"We will have kids here from Sioux City, Akron, Brandon, Sioux Falls, and, of course, Vermillion," Derby said.

Watching a good chess match, he said, can be just as exciting as viewing a spirited basketball game.

"It really is like a basketball game with the pieces moving back and forth," Derby said. "There's the fun of seeing those combinations and the interaction of the pieces."

He believes chess teaches valuable lessons about life.

"Young people will eventually learn that their own decision-making process will help determine what happens in their lives, and that's what chess is all about," Derby said. "It's one of the few games that doesn't rely on the element of chance. There's no shuffling of a deck of cards or rolling of dice.

"The outcome of the game is based on decisions each player made in the past," he said. "That's why we teach kids to look at all options, and that can be a valuable lesson for life."

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