Lilianna Gao won 5th place

Age and grade were irrelevant when determining the top players at the 1st Annual Rye Scholastic Chess Championship held at the Rye Recreation Damiano Center on Sunday, June 27. A 5th grader, Gabriel Peter, and a 10thgrader, Errol Lipton, scored perfect 4.0 scores with Gabriel taking 1st place after tie-breaks. A 1st grader, Terrain Wu, took 3rd place in the Championship section with a score of 3.5. Trophies were awarded to all players scoring at least 3 points with tie-breaks used to determine the order. The winners came from elementary and middle schools across Westchester County and surrounding communities.

“Chess is unique among competitive activities as age, size and gender don’t make a difference. Chess is really a great equalizer,” says Sunil Weeramantry, Executive Director of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation.

The tournament was presented by the Rye Reads Learning Center, and the NSCF. The two organizations partnered in January to offer in-person chess lessons which had been shuttered for months during the coronavirus pandemic.

When schools across the nation were closing their doors due to coronavirus, Rye Reads directors Terry Taddeo-Caridi and Georgia Arbuiso-Gilfeather set out to find a way to keep learning safe but still deliver classes in-person. This was especially important for families where the parents could not stay home for their children to learn exclusively online. In addition to setting up learning pods, they determined that enrichment programs were still an important component of a child’s education. They approached the National Scholastic Chess Foundation, a Westchester-based non-profit that has been teaching chess in the area for over 30 years and started offering small group chess classes every week.

Clementine and Silas Kavanagh are ready for their first chess tournament

After 5 months of classes, the Rye students were clamoring for the chance to put their new chess knowledge to the test. With a capacity limited to comply with coronavirus guidelines, 62 players battled it out in two sections: an open championship section which was rated by the US Chess Federation, and a K-4 Unrated section which allowed novice players to gain experience in a formal tournament. Silas Kavanagh, who won the trophy for top unrated player in the championship section is a 6th grader at Rye Middle School who has been taking lessons as part of the program. His younger sister, Clementine, a 4th grader at Midland School, also participated in the classes and played in the unrated section.

“This was my first tournament and I really enjoyed it,” Silas said. “I have had a great time with the Rye Chess Club.”

The Rye Chess Club continues every Thursday from 3:30 to 5 pm all summer long. Registration is $150 per month. Information is at www.ryereads.com or call 914-424-3524. In addition to the once-a-week class, the NSCF is offering online chess camps and an in-person weekly camp in Hartsdale. Information for those programs is available by clicking the links.