Kids in Park City compete in sports, dance, cheering, debate, business and robotics, along with many other activities. Chess has been around for 1500 years and it’s alive and well in the school district. Ecker Hill Middle School will host a tournament with players from kindergarten to ninth grade. But, with this tournament, there’s an opportunity for friends and family to participate.
Gina Mason is the Gifted Programming Specialist in the Park City School District. She learned to play chess when her son, Sam, started to compete nationally while he was in the Park City School District. She says that’s how she got involved in the sport. She learned how to direct tournaments while he competed around the country.
"He is in college and has coached some local kids over the years. He's currently home for spring break so he'll actually be there at the chess tournament helping me out and some of his old students will be really happy to see him. He went to Park City high and he played around Utah. But he's traveled across the country playing, growing up, has won eight state championships as well as place nationally so he was pretty well known in the chess scene. Park City High School has some students I know now who play chess, but they've never had a formal high school team. One year they did have about four kids compete in the state championship and they actually came in 5th place.”
Mason says the tournaments typically attract 50 to 100 people and this year, they’re opening it up to anyone in the community.
“For students or kids in grades kindergarten through ninth grade. And, this year we’re also going to have a friends and family section so if you have a child playing in the tournament based upon their grade level then you as a parent or a grandparent or cousin or aunt can play in our friends and family section. And we’ll combine your scores which is how many games each of you win and you’ll be able to win some cash prizes.”
Mason has registered the tournament on the Utah Chess Association website and is hoping to attract players from Wasatch County and Salt Lake.
“They play five rounds and they play all the rounds and each game-each player has 30 minutes to complete their game. The younger kids usually don't take that long from probably 9 to about 3:00 and then in order to register they can just email me at gtmason the number 8 at gmail.com.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Mason says sometimes it’s hard to cultivate chess as a competitive event with so many competing activities in the community.
“I have this core group of kids that has just been playing chess since they were younger and now there at Ecker Hill and we have a whole group that were huge at Ecker Hill when Sam was teaching chess club, who play over at Treasure Mountain, so there is this hidden chess community.
The tournament is March 30th at Ecker Hill Middle School. It starts at 9:30 and will go until about 4. Since a day long event, they’ll have concessions set up for lunch.
Chess trophies that will go to the top five finishers in each age group.
Pre-registration is $15 until March 28th at 5 pm. It will be $25.00 at the door.
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1K3hTInDp1abpK-UFCPro4N_s88zt1JkQhMWqorGZfsk/viewform?edit_requested=true is the link to pre-register for the tournament.