Two Lower School students, kindergartener Asher Kirschbaum and second-grader Max Kirschbaum, participated in the 2021 K-12 National Chess Championship in Orlando, Florida, Dec. 3-5. Asher (in photo at left) placed 4th nationally and tied for second place in points.
The siblings have been playing for about two years, ever since Max (in photo at right) first showed interest in her father’s chess set.
“He showed her the names of the pieces and how they move. After that, she got very interested and started playing with him regularly,” their mother, Suzanne Kirschbaum, explained. “We eventually took Max to the Triangle Chess Center to get more information about playing with other kids, and they did an introductory lesson with her to see what she already knew. Asher was with us and we realized he was interested in the lesson, too.”
Since then, both students have played a lot of online chess as their knowledge and interest in the game increased. To prepare for the tournament, they practiced on a chessboard and with a timer, which they were required to use during the tournament, and continued to improve their game.
For Max, the appeal of chess is in the strategy. “I like putting together the puzzle in my head,” she said.
Tournament rules required that participants compete at their current grade level. For Asher, who as a kindergartener was in the youngest group of competitors, bringing home a trophy was a welcome surprise.
“I felt proud,” he said of his fourth-place win. “Those kids were really good!”
Tournament organizers had the K-12 players register under their school names, meaning Ravenscroft was represented at this national event.
It’s not the first time Lower School Ravens have participated in such a competition: in early March 2020 — right before COVID protocols necessitated a move to remote learning for all students — nine students competed in two divisions in the North Carolina K-12 Chess Championship. The K-3 team, made up of five third-grade Ravens, placed fourth out of 17 teams; and the K-2 team, consisting of two kindergarteners and two first-graders from Ravenscroft, placed third out of 10 teams.
The Kirschbaums said they’d love to see a Lower School chess club get started once COVID protocols permit. Families interested in joining a Lower School chess club can contact Frank Kirschbaum for more information.