If you've never been to a chess tournament you'll have a hard time believing that almost 1,600 students can be in the same large room and be so quietly engaged, but listen...Eight hundred games of chess are being played and the loudest sound in the huge room is someone walking across the floor.
Jerry Nash with the U.S. Chess Federation says there are five scholastic tournaments each year. In this one students play opponents who are in the same grade regardless of ranking....high school seniors play each other, first graders play each other, yes that's right and even kindergartener's took part in the tournament. Nash says in tournament play each player has 90-minutes so a game can take up to three hours.
The tournament consists of seven rounds, ranking within each grade determines who plays whom in the first round and then players with similar scores will play each other through the remaining six rounds.
Xi Zhang is a senior at Bellaire High School. He's been playing competitively for six-years. He says at bottom chess is a very fair competition. Chess is also a team sport, something, says Zhang that helps him prepare for competition.
The U.S. Chess Federations Jerry Nash says people of all ages are attracted to chess because the only thing that matters is what happens on the board.