Being just 7 years old, Izaiah and Kendall are two of the youngest sharp-shooting chess players at LINC’s annual summer chess camp and university this week.
“I like attacking my opponents with my bishop,” Izaiah said.
"We’ve been learning checkmates,” said Kendall, “and step positions, and doing Bug House . . .”
Some 26 kids have been attending the camp and some 16 adults at the companion university for chess teachers, steeping themselves in new strategies in the week-long programs at Genesis School in Kansas City.
And the history of LINC’s two decades of promoting chess suggests that today’s students may well be tomorrow’s teachers.
Consider that as one of LINC’s chess teachers this week — Trenton Walters — was teaching another group of children, one of his former pupils — Rebecca Winkle — was now among the adults in the next classroom down the hall, learning how to become an instructor.
Font-line LINC staffers were also in the adults’ class, like Ashley Blattman and Marty Kankey from Topping Elementary School, who want to be able to help the growing number of chess players at their North Kansas City School District Caring Communities site.
And J’Nelle Parker was there, not only as teacher at LINC’s new site at Indian Creek Elementary School in the Center School District, but also as a parent who wants to teach her 8-year-old son.
The mindfulness of chess is “a good tool for kids to know,” Kankey said. “(Children need the skill of) future thinking — thinking about what you’re going to do before you do it.”
The university lesson on this particular afternoon, with veteran instructors Ken Lingelbach and Tom Woods, was all about isolating pawns and thwarting their advance.
Woods once was an adult student in LINC’s chess programming, beginning when he was line staff at Boone Elementary School in the Center.
He loved this “systematic, piece-by-piece” training method LINC practices, and found himself making chess instruction his primary role.
“I never thought I’d love doing this,” he said. “This is my dream job.”
One of the grownup students in the university class this week was Pam Lingelbach, a Fort Osage High School English teacher — and Ken Lingelbach’s wife.
She came to build her chess skills because she sees a groundswell of chess enthusiasm boosted by LINC’s programs in Fort Osage that is reaching the high school — and she wants to be ready to sponsor a chess club.
The trigger for her came last spring when she saw a freshman at the school looking at a chess app on his phone.
She asked him if he wanted to start a chess club, adding, “I’ve got connections . . .”
A petition was posted for students to sign up, she said, and the high school got 30 student signatures the first day.
LINC’s summer camp, same as in the school-year programs, aims to spread the joy of chess.
The camp, designed for kids from the school programs who have the basics down, has time to work on specific strategies, while mixing in fun like the four-player game of Bug House, Trenton Walters said.
The week rounds up with an always-thrilling event that brings in parents to match with their children.
“The kids always look forward for the chance to try to beat their parents,” Walter said.
Some advice to the parents: Watch out for the bishops.
By Joe Robertson, LINC writer