Third-grade students from Northwest Elementary, Woodland Heights Elementary, and East Elementary gathered in the Brownwood Intermediate School/Coggin Elementary cafeteria on May 24, to put their chess skills to the test in the annual third-grade chess tournament.

The tournament, made up of approximately 290 third-grade students, is a result of a chess program that began seven years ago with the implementation of First Move, an award-winning in-class curriculum that uses chess as a learning tool in second and third-grade classrooms.

Starting in second grade, students begin to learn the pieces and their corresponding moves. Near the end of the school year third-graders participate in the chess competition, which allows them to use the moves they’ve learned in actual games.

East Elementary Principal, Nanda Wilbourn, coordinated the tournament and led students through four rounds of play. Third-grade teachers helped monitor the games and determine the winner of each round by check-mate or pieces remaining. Students with the same amount of wins were matched up and the top players emerged undefeated following the fourth and final round of play.

This year 18 students were awarded as the top players of the tournament. Big Country Ford supports the event each year, supplying snacks and prizes for the top players.

“A special thanks to Kurt Newton and Thomas Scull of Big Country Ford for providing all third-graders with snacks, Sonic drink-cards, a bowling pass from Academy Lanes and $10 Walmart gift cards for the 18 top winners,” said Wilbourn. “What a great way for these businesses to celebrate all of our third-graders.”