Glencoe youth showed off their budding chess skills late last month, claiming all the top prizes at the inaugural Oakdale Avenue Chess Tournament on July 30.
Grade school students Marshall and Bryan placed first and second, respectively, at the inaugural competition, besting much older opponents “whose chess skills were rusty at best,” according to tournament organizers.
The youngsters were rewarded for their efforts with gift cards donated by local eateries Mino’s Italian and Graeter’s Ice Cream.
But for Bryan, who placed second, winning his games was prize enough, especially against opponents with much more experience.
“It felt good to win over some of the older people,” he told The Record via email, “especially on finals.”
The competition attracted a wide variety of amateur players, ranging in age from 6 to 77, all of whom “bonded over chess, food, and conversation” while “enjoying the beautiful summer weather,” facilitators wrote.
“It’s fantastic to see my kids playing chess with older players, and all of them having such a great time,” said Jody, the mom of one of the competition’s younger players. “This tournament has truly brought our community closer together.”
The tournament also brought in a volunteer instructor from Chess-Ed, a Chicago-based chess education program, to train beginner players in the basics of in-game strategy. Its organizers hoped their “unique competition” would bring Glencoe residents together, “leaving aside any age or experience barriers,” they wrote in a press release.
Bryan, on the other hand, arrived ready to hit the ground running. The best part of his game?
“My openings,” he said. “I practice them a lot and know a variety of different openings, including the Sicilian defense and offense.”
The Glencoe student first started playing chess, he said, after “[seeing] some of my friends playing it. … My friends encouraged me to try.”
Bryan’s mother, Dace Lukasa-Tangri, who planned and organized the chess tournament, confessed that she did so with a hidden motive: to encourage her son’s burgeoning passion for the activity.
“I kind of organized it for (Byran),” Lukasa-Tangri divulged, “to give him practice and encouragement by showing him how much fun this game can be for everyone.”
After the resounding success of the competition’s inaugural iteration, however, she is already looking forward to next year.
“We are thrilled with the incredible turnout and the remarkable sense of community that this chess tournament created,” Lukasa-Tangri said. “After seeing the level of warmth and positivity that this event generated, we will consider hosting this again next year.”
“We’ve made new friends, shared laughter, and experienced the joy of chess as a unifying force,” Jody reflected.
And as for Bryan, while he definitely plans to continue playing chess “every once in a while,” he advised me that he is “much more passionate about ice hockey.”
“If I have to choose where to spend my time, I’ll spend it practicing hockey,” he said. “I want to become a Blackhawk.”
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