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Area Students Compete in Chess Tournament This Weekend

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Since 1980, student chess players have gathered across Kentucky to see who will compete in the state championships. And while chess isn't necessarily the first thing you may think of when it comes to Kentucky sports, the Commonwealth has produced its share of champions, and chess has even rated a regular column in the Courier-Journal's sports section. This weekend, aspiring student masters head to Central City to see who will represent the 36 counties of Quad A at the state championships in March. Todd Hatton gets a preview from the man who's bringing it all together, Quad A coordinator and Graves County Chess Coach, Tom Knight.

Tom Knight says his interest in chess started by learning how to play from his grandfather. He found the the pieces interesting and the game challenging. He says some of the appeal of chess comes from being able to think ahead, being strategic, learning how to execute choices that come up in life. If you can think faster and process information more efficiently, that could improve your daily life. He started working with Dr. Wayne Bell in Murray, learning how to spread chess throughout the region with the Kentucky Chess Association. When Dr. Bell passed away, Knight was appointed Quad A coordinator.

Unlike most sporting events, chess is not a spectator event. Knight say a bag of chips or comments from the audience can be distracting, so they are typically asked to leave once the match begins. In high profile events, there will often be a separate room where people can watch.

The Kentucky Chess Association divided the state into four quadrants, which allows for an eventual championship tournament. Quad A is the first four districts in Kentucky. A team of two or more participates and if they place in the top four in their quadrant, they can move on to the state competition in March. Competing at this level requires a lot of extra study, he says, including reading books on the strategies of grand masters and watching videos of your own games.

There is one Quad A student to look out for and that' a six-year-old from Wingo. Knight says even he is afraid to play him and needs to think harder than when playing middle and high school students, crediting his skill to playing matches each night with his father.

Tom Knight is Chess Coach at Graves County and is the coordinator for the Quad A Scholastic Chess Tournament this Saturday in Central City.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
Todd Hatton hails from Paducah, Kentucky, where he got into radio under the auspices of the late, great John Stewart of WKYX while a student at Paducah Community College. He also worked at WKMS in the reel-to-reel tape days of the early 1990s before running off first to San Francisco, then Orlando in search of something to do when he grew up. He received his MFA in Creative Writing at Murray State University. He vigorously resists adulthood and watches his wife, Angela Hatton, save the world one plastic bottle at a time.
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