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Winter Knights Chess tourney has 136 contestants

MADISON – Despite illness and disparaging weather, chess players and coaches persevered to conduct their annual Winter Knights Chess Tournament.

“Because our tournament was occurring during the height of flu season, we instituted a new way to start each round, varying from the traditional handshake. We instituted the fist bump,” Renee Bartlett said. Bartlett is Executive Director of Madison City Chess League.

“A nurse suggested the ‘fist bump’ to me, and I thought it was a great idea to show sportsmanship but keep the kids safe,” Bartlett said.

Winter Knights is an open tournament for all students in good standing in their school chess clubs, including those in home schools, public schools or private schools. Students in the rated section played four rounds with a longer game time of 60 minutes with a five-second delay.

Originally, Winter Knights was scheduled for Jan. 13 at Columbia Elementary School. “But when school activities were canceled for Saturday, we had to make alternate plans. We rescheduled for Jan. 15, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” Bartlett said.

Winter Knights had a record registration for this year’s tournament with 136 students. “A couple withdrew at the last minute due to illness, but we had an awesome turnout. We added additional rated sections by grade level,” she said.

Twenty students competed in the non-rated section. “It is always exciting to see more and more students trying chess tournaments for the first time in the non-rated section,” Bartlett said.

The following players ranked in first place for each rated section:

* Laya Gowder — Kindergarten and second grade, Heritage Elementary School.

* Artem Starenki — Third and fourth grades, Rainbow Elementary School.

* Steven Pan — Fifth and sixth grades, Madison Elementary School.

* Thomas Nguyen — Seventh and eighth grades, Discovery Middle School.

* Tyler Wessling — Ninth through twelfth grades, Excalibur Christian School.

Madison City Chess League conducts weekly meetings at Madison Public Library, 142 Plaza Blvd. Ranging from beginners to masters, players meet on Monday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. No fee is charged to members.

For more information, visit madisonchess.com.

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