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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Chess Helps Sequoyah Students with Critical Thinking
by Cherokee Phoenix
Knight to H3. Pawn to E3. Check mate!

It's believed by some people that to master chess, you must master geometry, strategy and patience. For members of the Sequoyah High School chess club, it's all about critical thinking.

"They are thinking critically…where what kind of move they make results in either your pieces being taken or maybe you move in a place where you might be captured or you have to move and make another decision," chess club sponsor Elvina Thompson said.

Many educators believe understanding the game's moves, rules and structure encourage the development and training of intellectual skills such as inductive and deductive reasoning, long-term planning and creative problem solving.

Some Sequoyah students said being involved with the chess club has caused them to think more critically and from someone else's point of view.

"I'm thinking about the move the other opponent is going to make, and then I have to counter that move," said club member Logan Saiz. "It's fun. I like chess. It's kind of like a war game. You have to be smart and know how to play it."

Saiz, a sophomore, said he learned how to play chess from his dad.

"He taught me how the pieces moved, and he taught me the three-step kind of kill move. I don't remember the name to it," he said. "My dad still beats me. We play once or twice a week."

Chess is considered one of the oldest games in history. Some scholars believe it originated before 600 A.D. Despite its age, many people still play the game today.

At Sequoyah, different students have participated in the chess club for the past eight years. Unfortunately, Thompson said, during the years the club's ranks have fallen.

"We have about six or seven members, but we have just one team," Thompson said. "We meet every Thursday after school for about one and a half hours."

She said many students sometime shy away from the game because they believe it's for exceptionally smart people. Thompson said that is not the case.

"It's not that the members aren't good students, they are, but we want to get rid of that cliché, so to say, and it's for anyone and its fun," she said. "Once you learn the moves, it's really easy to play."

Thompson said she was teaching the game to her geometry class, but had to quit due to scheduling changes. For the upcoming school year, Thompson said she hopes the new schedule allows for more members to join the club.

"We've been kind of rebuilding our chess club here, and we're going to have an opportunity to maybe get more players with a new schedule that's about to come out for our classes. So there will be opportunity for other students to become involved in learning how to play," she said.

For those who think past club members just sat around and played each other would be wrong. Past members have participated in chess tournaments and even hosted a tournament at Sequoyah.

Thompson said this year's club will compete against outside competition for the first time during a March 5 tournament at the Tulsa Community College's southeastern campus.

"Generally prizes are not just trophies and metals, but they're also like tournament chess boards, stuff you wouldn't pick up at Walmart, where the pieces are weighted, that kind of thing," Thompson said.

Thompson added that this fall, she hopes to host another tournament at Sequoyah so non-club members can see how chess is played and will join the club.

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