Strategy, logic and skill. All are a necessity when tackling the game of chess, and the young minds of Lighthouse Christian School in Dagsboro can vouch for that. Last month, for the second year in a row, the school sent two teams – a middle school team and an elementary school team – comprising four players each, to the ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) Chess Tournament, held in Owings Mills, Md.
In all, 16 schools from four states – including Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – put their minds to work for the competition. Lighthouse Christian School was the only school in the state of Delaware to participate at the middle and elementary school levels, and they represented.
“We entered a middle school and elementary school team last year,” said Hal Walloch, coach of the Dagsboro teams, “and finished right in the middle. This year, though was a little different.”
From the opening match, Lighthouse Christian made it known that they were a driving force on their way to a team trophy. The middle school team scored a 3-1 victory to start off the tournament, then continued by winning its fourth team match after two intervening team matches.
In the fifth and final round, the Lighthouse Christian middle school team squared off against Carlisle Christian Academy of Pennsylvania in the championship match. After a hard-fought battle, Carlisle Christian Academy triumphed, but the Lighthouse Christian team earned the second-place trophy.
Individuals stood out as the middle school team closed in on their second-place finish. Jake Czapp won his first four matches, while brothers Anthony and Nathaniel Richter each won three matches.
At the elementary school level, Lighthouse Christian’s team started the tournament slow, though they finished strong, winning two match victories in their last three competitions. The performance locked up a fourth-place finish, narrowly missing taking third. Jonah Zack of the Lighthouse elementary school team won four matches out of five, as well, to carry the team.
“The matches really turned out to be an endurance test,” said Walloch. “They started the day at 9 a.m. and went on until 3 p.m. The kids were really excited, and everyone contributed. Both our middle and elementary school teams finished in the middle of the pack last year, so to have them perform this well, and have the middle school team take second place, really says a lot about these kids.”
The chess tournament’s four major aims are to increase student involvement in chess, to provide the opportunity for chess players to meet and compete, to promote logical thinking and to teach that each decision has a resulting consequence.
“The interest in chess is really starting to take off,” said Walloch. “Kids are playing it voluntarily. In addition to learning the game of chess, these kids are developing problem-solving skills and finding patterns based on the configurations on the board. The kids pick it up quickly and have a lot of fun with it.”
Next year, he said, he hopes to send two teams again, although some of the team will be moving on to high school.
“We’re really looking to develop more chess players,” Walloch said. “The kids have a lot of fun with it, and it’s something they’ll keep with them the rest of their lives.”
Lighthouse Christian School officials thanked Walloch and supportive team coaches Paul Hayes and Bob Kichline, noting that they also provided valuable assistance to the tournament director overseeing play and observance of tourney rules and procedures. Also receiving thanks were Jessica Czapp for team support and Kurt Czapp, Bob Kichline and Jennifer Truitt for providing transportation to and from the tournament site. They also thanked Terri Menoche, director of LCS for her overall help and encouragement for the Lighthouse chess team activities.