Two to compete in national competition
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Two Poplarville brothers will compete in the national chess tournament after being named Mississippi Scholastic State Chess Champions.
Seventh-grader Christian and ninth-grader Zachary Couvillion are no strangers to chess. Almost a year ago, they joined the Picayune Chess Club, where Clay Polk, the club’s founder, taught them the rules of the game.
“They started coming to the meetings and I started teaching them. When they first showed up, they barely knew how the pieces moved, but they came to every meeting and got better,” Polk said.
From the start, Zachary and Christian have dedicated their time and energy into learning the game, which is why the two have become good chess players, Polk said.
“Since we joined the club, everyone has shown us how to play and playing with good players helps a lot,” Christian said. “I’m preparing for the competition by learning new openings, tactics and studying.”
Christian will represent the state of Mississippi in the Barber Tournament of Champions for kindergarten to eight-grade students while Zachary will compete in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions.
Both tournaments will be held the first week of August at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, Ariz.
This is the first time the brothers are competing at this level, Polk said.
“I definitely know that there are going to be very strong players there and I’m just very happy to get the opportunity to compete,” Zachary said.
The competition consists of six rounds where students nationwide vie for the national title. The competition will be held in conjunction with the U.S. Open Chess Championship, Polk said.
“The club definitely exposed me to very strong players and I definitely learned a lot from many people, including Clay, which I can take to the competition,” Zachary said.
Currently, the Picayune Chess Club meets every Monday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Kimono Dragon, which is located at 324 W. Canal St.
Polk said everyone is welcome to participate whether they’re a beginner or an advanced player.
“We’re very accepting of beginners, like Zachary and Christian were, which is why we’re probably one of the strongest chess teams in Mississippi,” Polk said. “We get to train more people who become really good at the game later on.”