Strategy was at a premium as 480 students competed in the DeSoto County Chess Championship this week at the BankPlus Training Center in Southaven.

“It’s the same size it was last year,” said Emily Nelson, DeSoto County Schools director of leadership development, “but it was just the smoothest chess championship we’ve ever had. We had so much help from so many different members of the community. They want to make this event a success, and that’s just really heartwarming.”

This was the 17th annual tournament, according to Nelson.

“We’ve arrived now, where we’ve just raised a generation of kids that understand chess and appreciate it,” she said. “Hopefully, it’s blessed their lives.

“There’s a lot of good things to do for the kids in DeSoto County — this is one of the things that helps develop kids into outstanding adults.”

The 2010 participants ranged from fourth-graders to seniors. The individual and team winners:

Fourth grade: 1. Brayden Hellums (Pleasant Hill Elementary); 2. Avery Brewer (Pleasant Hill Elementary); 3. Michael Brungardt (Pleasant Hill Elementary). Team winner: Pleasant Hill Elementary.

Fifth grade: 1. Gordon Cleveland (Oak Grove Central Elementary); 2. Garrison Harbin (Olive Branch Intermediate); 3. Carver Forbes (Center Hill Elementary). Team winner: Olive Branch Intermediate.

Sixth grade: 1. Patrick Nelson (DeSoto Central Middle); 2. Conner Maddox (DeSoto Central Middle); 3. Atticus Nelson (DeSoto Central Middle). Team winner: DeSoto Central Middle.

Seventh/eighth grades: 1. James Long (Olive Branch Middle); 2. Ben Knighton (DeSoto Central Middle); 3. Trevor Todd (DeSoto Central Middle). Team winner: DeSoto Central Middle.

Ninth/12th grades: 1. Will Brown (Hernando High); 2. Kha Le (Center Hill High); 3. Chris Kelley (Lewisburg High). Team winner: Olive Branch High.