Pine Hill chess players compete at national championships
HILL, N.M.- Russian writer Irving Chernev once wrote, "Every
chess master was once a beginner." This is true for the Pine
Hill chess team.
students competed at the National High School (K-12) Chess Championship
in Dallas, Texas April 16-18. They placed 20th in the Unrated Division
and 18th in the Under 900 Division.
were so many schools that were participating and we did really well,"
said Jacqueline Martinez, head chess coach.
they returned, their trophies were displayed at the front desk.
The trophies showed that the students could compete at the national
kids at Pine Hill match kids anywhere," said John Brooks, Pine
Hill Schools activities director.
idea for a chess club began last spring. This year the club registered
with the New Mexico Activities Association.
are 43 students in the chess club ranging from first to 12th grade.
belong to the traveling team while others are regular club members.
They practice Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
students learn from each other by helping out with game strategies.
New members learn how to write in notation books, use clocks, and
make basic chess maneuvers.
practice, age or grade does not separate players. It is common to
have a first grader play against an eighth grader.
usually arrive early for practice and will be playing when Martinez
arrives. "They're there before me," Martinez said.
play during lunch and when they have free time with the individual
game sets they carry, she said.
there are no local schools with chess teams, the team travels far
Preparatory School in Albuquerque is the chess team within Pine
Hill's assigned region. The team also traveled to Tohatchi, Santa
Fe, Los Alamos and Chandler, Ariz. to play.
at competition, students are responsible for playing assignments.
They find their tables, clocks and must be on the correct side of
the table when playing starts.
a player becomes nervous, Martinez tells them, "They're just
kids, they're just like you. They know how to play chess, you know
how to play." Then she encourages them to do their best.
competition, the students will review their game.
come out and they'll look at their notation sheet," said Martinez.
"They'll put out their board and say, 'You know, this is what
I did. I should have done this. Next time, you know, I'm going to
look for this.'"
game has taught students critical thinking, independence and teamwork.
trophies were displayed during the team's May 19 banquet. Certificates
were given to players.
being a first year program, I was real surprised in how well the
students did," Brooks said.
Martinez Sr. is the father of three players and a chaperon to most
events. His children learned to play from their uncle and him.
makes the kids think," Martinez said. "We encourage them
to think ahead during the game - like three, four moves ahead of
Martinez, a third grader, went to Dallas. She said she had fun playing
the first day "blitz," which are five-minute games, eliminating
as many pieces as possible.
favorite piece is the queen, because it can move any direction on
grader Jerome Martinez said chess improves a person's thinking and
he plays during his free time. He also participates in basketball
and cross country.
Martinez Jr., a seventh grader, said chess is fun, makes him think
and he likes meeting new people.
can get the king and checkmate real fast and it's the most valuable
piece on the board," said the younger Vernard about his favorite
piece, the queen. He thinks he has played in 10 tournaments this