Scholastic Chess and the Lockdown: It’s all about the kids!

Scholastic Chess and the Lockdown: It’s all about the kids!

Scholastic chess players wondered how the yearlong lockdown would change chess. School chess clubs closed and in-person scholastic chess tournaments were stopped. There were no more school chess league matches between schools. And private in-person chess lessons switched to skype format, or stopped altogether until things could return to “normal.”

Rebecca Holt, President of the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation, Chad Lykins at Hayhurst, Dennis Chang at OES, Richard Babal at Jesuit and tournament director Ed Addis are just a few of the many people who are working to keep the kids playing chess. They organize chess tournaments that are played on the internet. The tournaments started out small as no one knew how it would work and if the kids would enjoy playing online. It has turned out to be a great success, going from one tournament a month to three or four each month. The tournaments may continue through the summer. Everyone is hoping there will be in-person tournaments in the fall if schools reopen by then.

You can find out about scholastic chess tournaments at the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation ( Most years the OSCF holds a three-day spring chess tournament at Seaside, OR drawing over 300 players from across the state, but this year it was held online. All the kids miss not only the in-person games at Seaside, but winning the giant trophies filled with salt water taffy!

For the past twenty years I have been going to scholastic chess tournaments and have seen the fun that kids have there. Win, lose or draw everyone has a good time. I have heard from my chess playing students that they enjoy playing online, but they really prefer to play in-person so they can meet up again with their chess buddies to swap stories and show each other their games. That is what they are missing and what online chess cannot give them.


Game of the month: Opening: Colle System

  • White: Rohan
  • Black: Atharv
  1. d4, Nf6
  2. Nf3, e6
  3. e3, d5
  4. Bd3, Bd6
  5. Nbd2, 00
  6. 00, The Colle opening system is very popular with scholastic chess players.

6… c5

  1. c3, cxd4
  2. exd4, Nc6
  3. Re1, Qc7, Black is starting his own attack.
  4. c4?, White should move his knight from d2 to f1 protecting h2 pawn.

10… Ng4

  1. h3, Bh2+
  2. Nh2, Qh2+

13.Kf1, Qh1

  1. Ke2, Nd4, Checkmate


Why learn chess? Simple: It’s a great mental workout that helps children perform well in the classroom. Chess is a logical game where kids have to plan ahead and adjust to new situations. But most of all, it’s fun!

Larry Ball (Coach Larry) teaches students of all ages at the Steinitz Chess Academy in Beaverton. For more information, email Larry at