Long Time Comin'

Long Time Comin'

Jan 20, 2018, 7:17 PM |


Its been about 3 months since I've blogged about the Wingfield Chess Team.  To catch up on our story, click the following link... (https://www.chess.com/blog/beth_thrasher/saving-lives-in-mississippi-birth-of-the-wingfield-chess-team). 


We've had some changes good and bad.  We've lost some successful members and gained several new ones.  We've competed a couple times with mixed success.  I myself (the coach) have been through some health struggles.  But through it all, a core group of die-hards kept us going!


Our school district had not been able to hold classes in the month of January yet due to a massive water pressure problem from 100's of water main breaks throughout the City of Jackson, Mississippi.  Its a sad reminder of the dramatic lack of infrastructure support our kids have to suffer through.  Many have had to go weeks without a decent water supply at home as well.  But this didn't stop us from travelling 90 miles away for a scrimmage with another fledgling chess program in the rural stretches of Mississippi.


(JKennethon, a Wingfield student, plays on the left)


Since the inception of our team a little over a year ago, we've never been significantly successful as a team at any of our competitive events.  Most times we take a lot of losses and perhaps one or two of our players win more games than they lose. 

But the team has worked HARD this past year.  Thanks in part to the donation of premium memberships on Chess.com, our kids have trained unlimited tactics and lessons to improve on a weekly and monthly basis.   The core group have created "tough-as-nails" newcomers.  In the month we've had off of school, kids would STILL get together to play and train.


(William plays on the left in the background, and Camden on the right in the foreground)

In the neighborhoods these kids are from, its an unacceptable dishonor to "lose".  Many wilt like an unwatered plant in the face of a challenge that's not a guaranteed winning experience.  Therefore, many kids don't take a lot of risks for personal growth.  Perhaps this is why the Wingfield Chess Team performance was so impressive this past Thursday. 


(Above:  Kamarie plays with the white pieces)


While it was just a friendly scrimmage, mostly purposed toward making new friends and encouraging another new chess team to train hard and grow, the Wingfield kids won 17 of the 20 games played.  Our top 4 players went undefeated.  This was UNHEARD OF SUCCESS for them, an experience unparalleled.  After a year of being beaten down on the 64 squares, the kids finally got to see what could happen if you get knocked down 9 times but get up 10.

Monumental progress has been made not only in their play on the board, but in their hearts and minds.  The kids believe in themselves and encourage others along the way to take risks and welcome loses as learning experiences.   

This scrimmage was rowdy and jovial full of conversation and new friendships being forged.  Our hosts were gracious and full of acceptance.  With open arms they not only welcomed, but also fed us!


(William takes advantage of some provided snacks while playing on the left)

I can't believe how much chess has encouraged the kids of Wingfield H.S. to become better people, unafraid of "failing forward".  Though I prayed, I never thought chess would've been such a powerful force for change.  We started this team not hoping that some kids would be good at chess, but rather that chess would be good for some kids.  Its breathtaking to watch both occur.

In three months we'll return to the Mississippi state championships.  Last year we came in 7th place out of 7 total high school teams.  More than finishing higher this year, I think we'd be happier to see more than just 7 high school teams there competing.  If we've encouraged more kids to fall in love with chess -- we're winners.