PALMDALE – They came from 15 different schools around the Antelope Valley and converged on the Palmdale Learning Plaza gymnasium, not for basketball or volleyball, but for a chess tournament!
Forty students in grades K-8 arrived at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 2) for the all-day event, which included a pizza lunch and an Awards Ceremony with trophies and certificates.
The group was introduced to one chess piece, taught how it moved, and shown a Chess Mini Game, which used that piece. Then, they went to the competition tables and played that Mini Game in a ladder-style tournament.
This process was repeated for each of the six different kinds of chess pieces, which meant that each child played dozens of games during the day. There was also time built in for full games of chess.
Students then gathered for the Awards Ceremony, where every participant in the Chess Tournament received a Participation Certificate and 15 students earned trophies.
Saturday’s Chess Mini-Game Tournament was organized by Daa Anne Mahowald, who has been teaching and coaching chess for more than 25 years.
Mahowald and her husband, Matt Mahowald (an engineer with Boeing on Edwards), have worked hard to foster Scholastic Chess in the community, since moving to the Antelope Valley in 2010.
“It’s well known that chess improves math and reading abilities. Chess also enables children to gain forward thinking and planning skills,” Daa Mahowald said. “It allows them to fail in a safe environment and learn from their mistakes. It also provides opportunities for success and positive social encounters.”
She said the Chess Mini-Game Tournament Saturday offered all those benefits and more.
“You could virtually see them learning as the day progressed. Many parents stayed part or all of the day to observe,” Daa Mahowald said. “Both during and after the event, they commented on how valuable they thought the experience is. Many were excited to see their children having fun in a learning environment. The children themselves were all about the fun and, of course, the trophies.”
“Their comments as they left at the end of the event were all about, ‘When’s the next one?’ and ‘I can’t wait!’” Mahowald added.
Many participants plan to teach their parents or friends the Chess Mini Games they learned Saturday, spreading the interest in Scholastic Chess even further, Mahowald said.
And the winners are…
- 1st Place Pillar Game – Joel Cantila, 3rd grader, Cimarron Elementary
- 2nd Place Pillar Game – Joseph Gonzales, 7th grader, Desert Willow Intermediate
- 1st Place Queen Game – Joseph Cantila, 5th grader, Cimarron Elementary
- 2nd Place Queen Game – Russell Townsend, 5th grader, Branch Elementary
- 1st Place Pawn Game – Briana Bergstrom, 4th grader, Anaverde Hills Elementary
- 2nd Place Pawn Game – Joseph Curcio, 5th grader, Barrel Springs Elementary
- 1st Place Kings Cross – Alexander Townsend, 3rd grader, Branch Elementary
- 2nd Place Kings Cross – Dakota Foster, 4th grader, Ocotillo Elementary
- 1st Place Bishop Game – Joshua Cantila, 4th grader, Cimarron Elementary
- 2nd Place Bishop Game – Helen Robinson, 1st grader, Desert Rose Elementary
- 1st Place BG Game – AJ Redmayne, 6th grader, AV Learning Academy
- 2nd Place BG Game – Ryan Rose, 5th grader, Gregg Anderson Academy
- Good Sportspeopleship – Victor Cuevas, 5th grader, Los Amigos School
- Good Sportspeopleship – Isabella Magallanes, 5th grader, Summerwind Elementary
- Good Sportspeopleship – Hannah Purnell, 2nd grader, Gregg Anderson Academy
View more sights from Saturday’s Chess Mini-Game Tournament (courtesy Matt Mahowald).