chess tourney kids phoenix classic

Several Iredell-Statesville School District students competed in the 2017 Phoenix Classic Chess Tournament, including this group, which competed in the ranked section.

MOUNT MOURNE – As one of the few United States Chess Federation (USCF) rated chess tournaments in the Lake Norman area, the Phoenix Classic Chess Tournament is a chance for young chess players to meet other aficionados and practice their skills.

Heather Ramsey, the USCF tournament director for the Phoenix Classic, said tournaments like this are meant to raise student interest in chess, a game she said can boost academic and critical thinking skills.

Mooresville Citizen: What was the inspiration behind beginning the chess tournament?

Heather Ramsey: Last year, the USCF encouraged its scholastic chess clubs to promote National Chess Day by offering tournaments. Since my goal has been to expand the interest in chess in Iredell County, particularly in the Iredell-Statesville School District, this provided a perfect opportunity.

To elaborate a little more, I became involved with the chess program seven years ago when my son, Jacob, volunteered me to facilitate the club at Mt. Mourne School. This was particularly interesting since I do not play chess; however, over the last seven years, I have discovered that I am able to facilitate the program and even became a licensed tournament director. This has only been possible with the help of key people at Mt. Mourne School ... the enthusiastic students who want to play chess and the parents who support them.

MC: Why do you think chess is important for young people to learn and play?

HR: Chess is an inclusive sport, one that can be played by all walks of life. Research shows that playing chess improves a child’s thinking, problem-solving and reading skills and math scores.

MC: How experienced do players have to be? And is there an age range?

HR: Our tournament is open to all ages and players of all skill levels. No tournament experience is required. My goal is for this tournament to offer challenging play for beginners through moderately advanced players. The Scholastic rated section is for grades K-12, and the unrated section is open to all ages.

MC: How can potential competitors register? What is the entry fee?

HR: Registration is easy. Simply email mtmournechess@gmail.com and include your name, address, email and preferred section (for rated sections, include your USCF rating, school and grade). The entry fee for the unrated section is $12, and the entry fee for rated players is $25. Fees are paid at the door (cash or check). Pre-registration is preferred.

MC: What should players expect on the day of the tournament?

HR: Players can expect a fun day of challenging competition in a welcoming environment. Snacks, drinks and pizza will be available to purchase. Players should bring their own chess set and chess clock if possible, but there will be equipment available if the player does not own one.

MC: Is there anything else people should know about it?

HR: •Trophies will be awarded to the top three players in each section.

• Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for registration and check-in.

• Tournament will be four rounds, Game 30, using Swiss System pairing.

• Tournament times: Round 1 - 9:30 a.m., Round 2 - 10:45 a.m., Round 3 - 12:30 p.m., Round 4 - 1:45 p.m. Awards to follow. Players compete in all four rounds.

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