Even though children filled Smith Memorial Center this weekend, the only sounds that could be heard were faint whispers and the tapping of chess pieces hitting boards. Portland State University hosted the state championship chess tournament for children last weekend.
Onlookers and passersby could observe chess games being played in every imaginable place from the hallways to the staircases.
“Everyone loves Portland State,” said Julie Young, executive director for Chess for Success.
This marks the first year for Portland Sate hosting the event. OMSI has sponsored the statewide elementary, middle and high school chess tournament for the past 30 years.
The tournament has outgrown the space provided by OMSI.
The president of Chess for Success Phillip M. Margolin and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Marvin Kaiser decided to move the competition to the university. “It is a great opportunity to be in education,” Young said.
Young said that this is the first time that all the children get to stay in the same building during the tournaments.
Another affiliation that Chess for Success has with Portland State University is with a capstone class this term. The capstone course, public relations for nonprofits, adopted Chess for Success this term. The capstone produced press releases, surveys for the coaches and a brochure for Chess for Success.
Chess for Success was founded to provide children from economically disadvantaged communities with an after-school activity that would promote self-confidence, patience, self-control and responsibility.
Chess for Success schools are Title I Portland Public Schools. Title I Schools are those in which 35 percent or more students qualify for free or reduced fee lunches.
Participating schools host after-school chess clubs and Chess for Success pays an adult coach, usually a teacher in the school, to run a chess program open to all children at the school.
Young said that Chess for Success pays for everything for the students. The chess pieces, the coach, the lesson plans and the T-shirts are all paid for by the organization. The cost for Chess for Success is $75 per student per year.
Young said that this chess program has the most girls involved than any other chess program in the United States. Young said the average percentage of girls enrolled in chess programs is 10 percent. Chess for Success’ average enrollment for girls is 30 percent. She said that the goal is to increase the number to be the same as boys.
Chess for Success was founded in 1994. In 1998 Chess for Success took over the organization of this tournament.
Margolin, the president of Chess for Success, is also a mystery writer and the author of eight books. Each of his books has been on the New York Times bestseller’s list.