Parents—looking for an avenue for your children to put those video game controls down—in exchange for the ultimate gymnasium of their minds? Well, just last Saturday, March 30, local civic association, The Heart of Rockaway (THOR), launched the Rockaway Youth Chess Club that already has parents crowing about their children’s new hobby.
Edwin Williams, second vice president of THOR, and father of two sons already enrolled in the club, said he came up with the idea while recently attending a youth chess championship in Manhattan. Williams said, “I was astounded by the diversity of the youth there, who represented communities all across the city. I said to myself, ‘Our Rockaway kids need to be here. We have such brilliant children all across the peninsula, why not start a chess club here?’”
Williams did not waste any time, and immediately began looking for a space, interested parents and children, instructors and an initial sponsor for the chess club.
The Rockaway Youth Chess Club, sponsored by Gerry Romski of Benjamin Beechwood Companies, LLC, is being held at St. John’s Baptist Church (74-05 Rockaway Beach Blvd.) with Chess Master Omar Graves as the coach. Williams said the chess club is held every Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“All youth from kindergarten through 12th grade are welcome to attend. Our students are being taught everything from the ground up. Currently, we already have ten children and six chess boards, and just ordered two more boards. It’s amazing to see how engrossed not just the children, but the parents are. Chess is truly a battle of the minds, and with training, we know our children are definitely going to be ready to compete with the best,” Williams said.
Williams said he hopes that learning chess will help students also excel in the classroom. “Chess has been proven to teach students critical thinking, problem solving, consequences and good sportsmanship. Our students will learn the game by playing mini-games that teach the unique moves of each piece. When they have mastered the moves, then they will begin to play complete games, where they are taught not only how to think ahead and how to strategically capture the opponent, but also how to do it in a way that portrays good sportsmanship.”