The University of Alabama

UA Students Hold Chess Match, Share Game Benefits with Tuscaloosa Children

UA student Matt Tucker teaches chess to Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools student Xavier Fields.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Honors students at The University of Alabama will hold a chess match Thursday, Nov. 15, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. for Tuscaloosa-area children who play the game as part of a team or club through their schools or other organizations.

Sponsored by the UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility, the event will be held at the Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools and will be planned, organized and operated by UA students.

The UA students are enrolled in Every Move Counts, an honors service-learning course in which they explore the academic and social benefits of chess for children while teaching the game in public schools.

Every Move Counts has grown significantly since its beginnings when three UA students taught chess to 12 sixth graders. During fall 2012, 45 UA students will teach chess to approximately 230 second through 12th graders at Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary, Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Middle, Alberta Elementary School and Oak Hill School. At the principal’s request, all second through fifth graders at Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary will learn to play the game through Every Move Counts.

“I am completely sold on chess integrated into the school day,” said Jeanne Burkhalter, principal of Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary.

Every Move Counts is nationally unique in utilizing college students to implement chess lessons in schools, said Stephen Black, director of the CESR.

“Chess is increasingly popular among college students, and the proven educational benefits of the game for school-age children are remarkable,” Black said. “Bringing these two groups together provides advantages for both. Through mentoring young chess players, college students establish a tie with the community while teaching a game they enjoy, and children have fun while reaping educational and social rewards.”

Since its inception, Every Move Counts has held a Tuscaloosa-area chess match each year in order for children in the program and others in West Alabama to come together and experience competitive play. The fall 2012 Tuscaloosa Scholastic Chess Challenge will be a team competition to be comprised of two matches taking place simultaneously, a main match and a beginners’ match. There will be three rounds in each match, with each round lasting up to one hour.

Teams competing in the main match are: Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools, Holy Spirit Middle/High School, Freedom Chess Academy (a nonprofit organization that offers free chess lessons and is a consultant for Every Move Counts) and Oak Hill STARS Academy. Teams competing in the beginners’ match are: Alberta Elementary, University Place Elementary and Oak Hill STARS Academy (Oak Hill will have two teams).

A sophomore working for a second semester with Every Move Counts as a course facilitator, Michael Goetsch, said he has not only sharpened his chess skills but also learned how to communicate with children and how to instruct them using different teaching methods.

“The most rewarding aspect of Every Move Counts is seeing the students you’ve taught put their newfound skills to work in an actual game,” Goetsch said. “I enjoy watching my students improve throughout the semester and take pride in watching them compete in a tournament setting.”

Educational research shows chess improves math and reasoning abilities, reading, English and math scores, critical thinking and concentration skills, self-esteem and self control.  With gender, ethnic background and socioeconomic status irrelevant to the game, chess brings together diverse groups of children and helps them build friendships that might otherwise not be formed, organizers note.

Learn more about Every Move Counts by clicking “Programs & Activities” at www.cesr.ua.edu or contacting CESR at cesr@ua.edu or 205/348-6490.

About the UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility – Created in 2005, CESR established university-wide programming supporting the study of ethics and the development of projects that nurture social responsibility and reflective, thoughtful citizenship. CESR staff develop and assist faculty members in developing service-learning courses that engage community organizations in partnerships designed to both enhance academic goals and apply scholarly learning to salient community issues.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Abby Luker or Linda Hill, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8325, lhill@ur.ua.edu
  • SOURCE: Stephen Black, 205/936-9963, sblack@ua.edu, and Olivia Grider, 205/348-6493, ogrider@ua.edu, UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility