With only seconds to develop a plan, silence fell over the room of chess players. The timer quickly wound down, making every move a turning point in a game. This was the atmosphere of Thursday’s competition, where each player is given only five minutes to claim a victory.
On Nov. 3, Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s Chess Department held its first fall semester community Chess Blitz Tournament. The tournament was open to players, no matter experience level. Nine individuals competed for a chance to win a chess board.
Comprised of three rounds, the tournament is a test of players’ critical thinking skills.
Players are awarded points based on the number of games won in each round.
The fast pace of the games create additional challenges for the players.
“The hardest part is developing a strategy, the rest is problem solving,” said Physics major Edson Estrada.
U.S. Army recruiter Sgt. Derick D. Arellano said the fast game pace leaves little time for players to size up their opponents.
“We have such a small amount of time, so it requires study and practice of the game and of your opponent,” he said.
For several of the players, chess is more than a hobby. It helps grow their personal and academic life. Chess board committee Director Eddie Rios has been training chess players, many who have special needs, for 27 years. He uses the game to get kids interested in intellectual pursuits and away from more dangerous activities, such as drugs or gangs.
“I believe that chess helps people. There is a group of people who are shy and don’t fall under other organizations. I have had the opportunity of helping special needs students and watching them enjoy the game. The game gives you responsibility and teaches you social skills. It’s a multicultural language,” he said.
Animal Science major Dustin Trevino said he enjoyed the tournament and meeting other players.
“I’ve been playing chess for years, ever since I was a kid Trevino said. “It’s really fun. I got to meet a lot of talented people today.”
The tourney was Computer Science major Mithileth Korrapati’s first time competing in a blitz-style competition at TAMUK.
“It is the first time I play a Blitz Tournament at this university. These types of tournaments are really intense, and give you a rush,” he said.
TAMUK’s Center for Student Success uses the chess program as a way of helping students advance in their academic endeavors. Coordinator David Ghore said the tournament was such a hit with players that he is already considering hosting another one.