Chess Success in Flagstaff

Our news today comes from Channel 12 TV in Arizona and is dated April 30, 2014.

Chess Success!

The Killip Elementary School Chess Team won the Arizona Scholastic State Chess Championship for the 7th year in a row. Killip Elementary School in Flagstaff, which has the highest number of students from low-income families in the city, keeps dominating the state.

“The students not only took several kings during the 2014 Arizona Scholastic State Chess Championship, a team of second-and third-graders took first place.”

“We never give up on each other,” said player Karen Mercado, 10. “We practice, practice, practice.”

Coach Ted Komada said that about 500 students and 50 teams from all over Arizona attended the state games held April 11-13 at Flagstaff High School. He made it clear that as their coach he is cautious to only point out when they win in the tornaments.  Komada said. “As long as we play to our fullest potential, even if we don’t win an award, we still won. We find fun in our work.”

With about 40 Killip kids participating in their various age groups, this is the seventh consecutive year that a Killip team has won.

Some Important Background

“A large number of these kids come from low-income families, and funding for the chess program comes only from parent, student, and staff fundraising efforts. Komada says parents often donate food, drinks, cups, and other miscellaneous supplies to offset expenses.”

“The team started with Komada about 10 years ago with just a handful of kids. Now there are over a hundred members, and no professional coaching.”

‘We’re not chess players, we’re teachers,” Komada said. “We’ve learned right alongside the kids.”

“He says they would love to get a chess expert from the community to come in from time to time to help their more advanced player get to the next level.”

Parenting Insight…

There is everything good about this story.

  • From the standpoint of learning, this is tops. Learning chess is like learning another language… and that is soooo good for children.
  • Playing chess is a strategy game that requires a lot of thinking and planning. It provides an excellent model for learning to think and plan in life in general.
  • This success shows that you can take a learning experience that is usually reserved for advantaged children and bring it to the disadvantaged… and not only bring it, see these young children shine with it.
  • As you read how this coach coaches, you will see an outstanding example of excellent teaching. Here is what he said:

“As their coach I’m cautious to only point out that they win in the tournaments,” Komada said. “As long as we play to our fullest potential, even if we don’t win an award, we still won. We find fun in our work.”


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  1. I didn’t think of this before, but I thought of it now. It would be interesting to compare these students who play chess with other students who spend an equal amount of time playing video games or violent video games. This productive use of brain energy can only bode well for good things to come.

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