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ASHEVILLE â€” There are a few things unquestionably worth venturing out into a snowstorm for: childbirth, an airplane flight, a wedding, a 12-pack.
But a kids’ chess tournament?
A few inches of snow didn’t stop more than 100 children from across Buncombe County from making their way to the Montford Recreation Center on Saturday morning for the 22nd annual Pawndemonium.
These cerebral strategy buffs, accompanied by their families, cheerfully kicked through the snow on the hilly streets around the center to face their opponents during multiple rounds of play inside the gym, which buzzed with brain power.
That brain power is what adults love about chess, although the kids just think it’s fun.
â€œOne reason the Kiwanis Club supports this tournament is because we believe kids who play chess do better academically,â€ said longtime Kiwanis leader Ned Cabiness.
â€œResearch has shown that chess supports skills such as self-discipline, planning ahead, problem-solving, concentration and focus for extended periods of time,â€ he said. â€œAnd we’re delighted that so many younger children are playing.â€
Win or lose, the kids say, it’s all good.
â€œThe hardest thing is when you lose,â€ said Grant Wiedeman, a second-grader at Asheville Catholic School. â€œBut you just shake hands and move on.â€
Carson Archie, a third-grader at Asheville Catholic, sees the bright side of losing a match. â€œBasically, when you win, it’s fun,â€ he said.
â€œBut when you lose, it teaches you what to do next time and how to improve on your game.â€
His friend and chess partner David Mathews, a sixth-grader at the school, says he sees himself playing chess even when he’s an old man, although â€œas a pastime, not competitively.
â€œWhen I’m rich and famous, I’ll play chess, and I’ll write, and I’ll bike, and I’ll play piano and a whole bunch of other things,â€ he said.
â€œPlus, I might invent some computer games.â€
Although boys still dominate the chess world, there are plenty of girls who enjoy the cerebral challenge.
â€œYou definitely have to have a certain way of thinking about things, and you have to be pretty committed to getting good at it and learning what (your opponent) is going to do next,â€ said Julia Eccleston, a sixth-grader at Valley Springs Middle School.