Newsletter #1 - October 11, 2016

posted Oct 11, 2016, 9:05 PM by James Hodina

Dear Prairie Chess Club Families,


Thank You Teachers and Volunteers

We are off to an exciting start for our chess club.  First let me just thank all of those who have helped bring the Prairie Chess Club together for 2016-17 school year. The students are coming together to learn and  play chess so nicely.  Our TAG teachers, Mrs. Hoffman, Mrs. Zastrow, and Mrs Stoll have masterfully navigated our young chess players from Crest, Heights, Hill, Ridge, and View to Creek. Our parent volunteer Dustin Sellon and high school volunteers Regan, Trevor, Andre, and Anya who join us to help helping teach and answer questions with the lessons.  Finally, let me thank the parents who have donated snacks or to the snack fund.  You have also been awesome with pickup at the end of the club.


Our First Two Weeks in Review

With students from 2nd through 12th grade, we have chess players coming and going from 2:40 to 5:00 pm.  These students range in skill and experience from the very beginner to state chess champion.  As such, we are providing chess instruction in groups.  Currently, we have three groups and some individual study. Our Creek students arrive first. This Monday, we split into two groups, the first working on tactics and the second group worked on rook and pawn endgames.  By 4:00 pm, the 2nd - 4th grade students arrived.  In our two weeks we have learned the difference between checkmate and stalemate.  Then we learned out to checkmate with 2 Rooks + King versus a lonely King and then how to checkmate with a King + Queen versus a King.  The students then practice against our instructors and high school volunteers.  



Along the way, from time to time, we will provide handouts and puzzle sheets.  I will post these on the Prairie Chess Club website: www.chessiniowa.org/prairiechessclub.  The students turn in their worksheets for me to review.  Following the lesson we give out a snack and the students then get free time to play until picked up between 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm.


What’s Coming Up


There are many opportunities to play chess with the Prairie Chess Club outside of our Monday meetings.  We have a rich tradition of chess at Prairie, competing at Iowa and National Scholastic chess tournaments and events.  Our top players take advantage of many of these opportunities  I would like to encourage to give one or more a try.


  • Cedar Rapids Scholastic Chess Club at the Ladd Library:  The Cedar Rapids Chess Club hosts a scholastic meeting on the third Sunday of each month from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm.  Our next meeting is this Sunday, October 18th. I lead this meeting with a lesson and then an extended period to play other kids from around the area.  This meeting is part of series of Sunday afternoon scholastic chess events that meet every week, rotating from Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Marion, and Coralville. Click here for more details

  • Eastern Iowa Elementary Scholastic Chess League: The Prairie Chess Club will participate in a consortium of of local scholastic clubs interested in hosting chess matches against neighboring schools in Johnson, Linn, or surrounding counties. This is limited to K-6 students.  This is not a tournament but K-6 students will have the opportunity to play students from other schools.  We will use “tournament rules” following chess etiquette such as “touch move” and timed games.  The matches will be held in evenings for approximately 60 to 90 minutes one evening a month.  We will play approximately 4 matches during the school year and you may participate in one or all four.  I will send out a separate sign up for parents next week.

  • Cedar Rapids Scholastic Chess Championship, October 22:  This tournament will be held at the Cedar Rapids Clarion Hotel and is open to all students.  The tournament is designed to be an introductory event for students with little to no tournament experience.  There is an entry fee to cover costs at the hotel and for trophies.  Medals will be awarded for all students participating in their first chess tournament.



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