Knights in the Park

By Rachel Shechter

The summer heat can’t stop these students. Unflinching and undaunted, these intrepid future kings are among the first – if not the first – Illinois chess players returning to over-the-board chess (OTB) after enduring months of lock down and virtual learning.

Why is this moment significant?  Instructor and organizer Rachel Schechter notes that when every national educational institution closed its classrooms and opened online learning portals, it was the smart move, the right move for the moment. An adequate substitute.

“However,” Schechter continues, “It was a substitute. By the end of term, students seemed lackluster and unfocused. They craved normal socialization. At the start of June, I invited a handful of current and former Montessori students to play chess in Meadowbrook Park in Savoy, Illinois.”

Everyone took the appropriate hygienic measures.  Parents gave their approval. After four weeks, the initiative demonstrated that OTB chess can make a safe, secure comeback.

What do the students say? “Where’s the pizza!” Even 90-degree heat doesn’t deter their dedication to the royal game. Pizza seems more than a fair reward for these fearless chess warriors.

Schechter concludes, “It’s a safe, clean, healthy environment. And it’s working. Hopefully, a few more players will join us for the rest of the summer; and more like-minded chess organizers will get their players back on board.”

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