Lovejoy High Schools chess team is inviting players from all over Northeast Texas to compete in the Region III Scholastic Chess Championships Jan. 15.
The team is also inviting Grandmaster Susan Polgar, five-time Chess Olympiad gold medalist and winner of four World Championships. Polgar broke the gender barrier in 1986 by becoming the first female player to qualify for the Mens World Championship.
Polgar will sign autographs, sell copies of her book, Chess Tactics for Champions, and deliver a presentation about her life and career. Then, Polgar will take on 40 players simultaneously, jumping from table to table in a massive 40-on-1 tournament.
The event will also allow players to try out a 30-minute chess problem-solving competition developed by Polgar and Texas Tech that will be a pilot program for elementary and middle school students at next years University Interscholastic League competition.
This is news-making, because if UIL takes on this endeavor of including chess as one of their sports, its going to change how certain things are regulated as well as the promotion of chess itself beyond the board game, said Tricia Dobson, coordinator for Sport of the Mind, Lovejoy High Schools chess team.
The championship is expected to draw 200 to 250 students from around the region, Dobson said. Nine sections, divided into Primary, Elementary, Middle School and High School divisions, will compete in matches rated by the United States Chess Federation (USCF), a national membership organization for chess players. There will also be a special not to be rated section for novices grades 4 through 12.
So far, Dobson said, the team has secured eight USCF-certified tournament directors, some of whom will be in charge of computer systems that instantly record games to the USCFs web database of players performance ratings.
In two days, after the tournament, the kids can go in and figure out what their rating is, how well they performed, Dobson said. Its like keeping score at a basketball game.
Most of the action will take place in the schools gym, where players will compete simultaneously in separate individual and team competitions. Medals will be given to all registrants, but only those who place in competitions will be awarded trophies.
When you come to one of these tournaments, its very organized, and were very meticulous about how we do this, she said.
Dobson is also coordinator for the Sloan Creek Chess Club, whose junior varsity team won fourth place in the state championships in February 2010. In April, the clubs three-person team won 20th place in the national championship in Minneapolis, Minn. In September 2010, Sport of the Mind won first place in the local Scott Watson Memorial Chess Tourna-ment, the teams first-ever tournament.
The Lovejoy Independent School District began funding its chess program in 2009. The program is comprised of separate elementary, middle school and high school programs. Each November, the district invites elementary, middle school and high school players from all over the Metroplex to compete at the Turkey Tournament, held at Sloan Creek Middle School.
Dobson said regional championships, which do not feed into the state championships like team sports, will not only allow players to get in some practice and build up their ratings but form bonds and share strategies with fellow players.
These are two kids that didnt know each other the day before, and now theyre best buddies, even though they were warriors across the chessboard, she said.
A fee of $25 is required for the competition, and USCF membership is required for rated tournaments. The deadline for application is Friday. For information, contact Dobson at checkmate-this@ gmail.com or 972-658-8537. To register with USCF, visit www.uscf.org.