Kristi's Kids

Jan 22, 2013 11:59 PM by Kristi Tedesco

Kristi's Kids making moves on chess board

TUCSON - Do you have a child who won't sit still? A boy who can't focus or a girl, who's easily distracted? Well it turns out an ancient board game can help.
There's a unique organization right here in Tucson promoting the game of chess.

"Cause it's fun. And I love meeting people. And I love playing chess," says Cepheus Martinez who is 16 years-old.

Chess has been on board for over a thousand years. Jean Hoffman co-founded 9 QUEENS, right here in Tucson, about 4 years ago.

"And our goal was to create a chess program that was...made chess fun, exciting and accessible to everyone."

Kristi's Kids was there for one of the chess tournaments 9 QUEENS put into play at the Himmel Park Library on a Saturday morning. There is more to this game than just moving pieces around the board.

"It promotes academic intelligence. It improves math and reading scores. It's been shown to create emotional intelligence," Jean explains.

"It's such a powerful and important tool for them where they can experience success as a thinker."

And you don't have to be the smartest kid in class to play.

"They may have trouble focusing in school," says Jean. "They may have A.D.H.D. Chess is tactile. It's competitive and it's fun. And it reaches out to these kids."

Tony Nogales is a sophomore in high school.

"Somehow I get a lot of math out of it," says Tony.

"It's gotten me interested in orientation because you would have to plot spots on a map, where you need to be"

Cephius has all the right moves but he knows there's always more to learn.

"Chess teaches you patience, confidence and to never give up," he says.

And parents like Martha Underwood are seeing improvement too.

"So what I saw was my kids who couldn't attend to anything for more than 15 minutes, now can play a game for up to 6 hours."

Kids do spend a lot of time with hi-tech gadgets but this game, from a thousand years ago is grabbing kids' attention.

"It causes that human interaction. They have to negotiate. They have to learn turn-taking. They have to have respect for each other," says Martha.

Click on this link to learn more about 9 QUEENS. They teamed-up with Pima County Library to hold tournaments. There's also a chess festival coming in the spring downtown.

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