Edmond elementary school's chess club teaches life lessons to students

The chess club at Edmond's Ida Freeman Elementary School was started 15 years ago after during a bout with bad weather that limited outside activities.
BY STEVE GUST Modified: December 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm •  Published: December 26, 2012
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— The ancient game of chess has some young devotees at Edmond's Ida Freeman Elementary School who aren't just mastering a board game. They are learning great life tactics as well.

For 15 years, fifth-grade teacher David Nichols has coached one of the more successful elementary chess clubs in Oklahoma. He has more than 80 students, second through fifth grades, who regularly attend tournaments.

It started in 1997, during a bout of bad weather.

“We had to be inside and decided to break out chess boards,” Nichols recalled. “After that, the interest was there, and we decided to form a club.”

Since then, Ida Freeman and chess success have become almost synonymous as the team makes regular tournament appearances and racks up championships at state tournaments. One was this month at Tulsa University.

“Our team extended its winning streak to 9-0 with a dominating performance at the Tulsa University Tournament,” Nichols said. “We took 57 players who play in two sections, K-4 and K-6. We won team championships in both sections, had the individual champions in both sections and placed 35 medalists.”

The events are sponsored by the Oklahoma Scholastic Chess Organization, and chess participation is usually for the entire school year.

High standards

Those involved with the state Scholastic Chess Organization and others believe chess teaches young people teamwork, discipline, sportsmanship and other positive thinking habits, which help with academic prowess.

Nichols agrees. “We are teaching higher-learning skills,” he said.

Students also have to have high standards to participate.

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