JHCA held its end of the year Chess Tournament for 3rd-6th grade students on Wednesday, April 21. The entry-level tournament consisted of multiple divisions with the goal of providing students the opportunity to experience a tournament.
Mr. Jay Stallings, JHCA chess instructor, teaches all across the United States and visited JHCA for a week of in-person instruction, known in the chess community as “over-the-board” play. Due to the pandemic, JHCA’s chess program has followed a hybrid model of weekly, virtual instruction with Mr. Stallings, and the use of practice computer games via his proprietary learning and play website. Through this website, Mr. Stallings is able to track the progress of students, review their games, and point out ways in which they can improve their moves.
Since his first in-person visit in September, Mr. Stallings has noted a significant improvement in students’ games, and he constantly reminds them to challenge themselves.
“The students have all improved dramatically. The foundation for greatness has been laid and the passion is growing in the students. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of JHCA’s students become the State Scholastic Champion in the coming years.”
To encourage students in their practice, Mr. Stallings lovingly tells the story of two students who were preparing for a chess tournament. The first student chose to play the computer’s “easy level” and always won, while the second student played the computer’s “difficult level” and always lost. The second student who challenged herself, did the best in the tournament. The one that preferred to win, and not challenge herself, was not able to win a single game in the tournament.
“I constantly remind the students in class to challenge themselves. It’s not about winning–that’s just a bonus we get in the end. The beauty is the learning that we do on our way … It helps the students to understand that losing is a stepping stone to greatness.”
According to Mr. Stallings, chess is a great way to help students learn to make sound decisions, teaches the importance of patient study, and cultivates the habit of always thinking about the consequences to their actions.
“Chess is for life. It’s a game that will help students to build friendships and meet new people. It’s also an international language. You can play chess with people all over the world. It allows you to have many opportunities.”
Mr. Jay Stallings lives in California with his wife, Michel, and graduated with a B.S. in business from the University of Texas at Austin. He has 27 years of experience teaching chess, and has coached over 40,000 students as a private coach and in intercity programs, hospitals, and summer camps. Additionally, he has presented at chess education seminars in London and across the U.S., runs the Southern California State Chess Championship, and was nominated as 2020 Organizer of the Year for the United States Chess Federation.
2021 JHCA Chess Tournament Winners
3rd grade: (three divisions) Brianna and Gabe won in their divisions. Alexandra and Daniel tied for first place in their division.
4th grade: (two divisions) Isabelle and Isaiah tied for first place in their division. Emiliano won in his division.
5th grade: (two divisions) Thatcher won in his division. Leisel and Maggie tied for first place in their division.
6th grade: (four divisions) Luke, Rylan, and Max won in their divisions. Lola, Kipper, and Rhett tied for first place in their division.