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Introduction: What is the Fullerton Lions Chess Program?

1) Youth Chess in Fullerton.

Overview of Lions Chess Programs
The Fullerton Host Lions club has offered a variety of chess programs for the benefit of  students of the Fullerton Community. A summary of these programs over the years, and the schools at which they were offered, is shown  at  (Fullerton Host Lions History).
Chess is a great game which, in addition to providing intellectual stimulus and training, it also enhances life skills of concentration, tactical and strategic planning,  competitive skills and attitude,  and sportsmanship.  All told the Fullerton Host Lions, with leadership from Lion Pete Baron, contributed over 5000 hours of volunteer effort to provide opportunities to Fullerton students to play this great game.

  1. Weekly chess clubs.  These were either lunch time or after-school programs for 4th grade and above students lasting typically 45 minutes, or  1 to 1.5 hours, respectively.  Clubs were offered at both elementary and junior high schools. Lunch hour clubs typically spent most of their time playing, with only limited opportunity for instruction.  After-school club meetings featured casual play, instruction, pussle solving, competitive play and preparation for  upcoming tournaments. Chess clubs were offered at up to nine campuses on a given year, with as many as five (though typically 3-4) at any given time.  Chess programs lasted from 3 months to the full school year starting the second month of the year.
  2. Chess Workshops. These were 1.5 to 2.0 hour sessions, featuring the same activities as after-school chess clubs.  The workshops were open to schools that did not have a chess club, and also allowed students from K through 3d grade to participate. At different times, workshops were held once, twice or four times a month
  3.  Junior High School Team Tournaments.  From 2003 through 2011 a team tournament was held to  crown the best Junior High/Middle School chess team in the Fullerton School District.  A traveling plaque, naming the winning team and its members, is now residing at Parks Jr. High in perpetuity: they won the city championship 5 out of the 8 times the tournament was held!
  4. The Lions-sponsored Fullerton City Chess Championship Tournaments were held in May of every year since 2006. Each grade had its own tournament, with the winner emerging as the  Fullerton City Champion for that grade. (Note: generally, for grades 8 and up several grades were combined to yield an adequate number of players (5-6). Initially only 40 students participated; but the tournament quickly grew to 55-65 participants. Winners were recognized by photos and articles in Fullerton Observer (photos 3 times making the front page!), and also received recognitions from either the Fullerton City Council or the FSD board of Trustees (see trophy winners for the past nine tournament (City chess Championship History, and City Chess Championship Honor Roll).
  5. In 2009 the Host Lions initiated, along with the Fullerton School District, co-sponsorship of the popular Morrison Scholastic Chess tournament. This sponsorship brought the tournament, which typically attracted110 to 170 participants from all over Orange County and environs, to Fullerton. This tournament has been planned, organized and funded since 1973 by (now retired) junior high school teacher Dewain Barber, whose significant contributions to scholastic chess were recognized by the Lions on the occasion of the 41th  tournament.
  6. Special events (simultaneous exhibitions, among others by 4-tim women’s world-champion Susan Polgar) and mini-tournaments were also held at irregular intervals.
    Click here for "Tips" from Susan Polgar on Chess Basics

2) Importance of Chess:


Chess is one of the oldest games in the world, it is globally the most universally played game, and
| has been played in the U.S. by some of our great statesmen (Franklin, Jefferson and Lincoln) as
well as some current ones (Governor Schwarzenegger, who routinely played on sets waiting for the
next film shoot, and had his children take chess lessons). It is a game for all ages: last year the L.A.
Times reported the youngest "expert" ranking ever, an 8 year-old, while at the other end of the spectrum, my brother in law at 81 still plays well enough to beat one out of two.

At its best chess is a game which teaches not only quick thinking, but also concentration, good
sportsmanship* and, very importantly, learning from your mistakes. At intermediate and advanced
levels one must learn to think both stategically and tactically**
. These are life skills that will stand any student in good stead, no matter that he or she gives up playing the game as other priorities intrude!

Pete Baron, Coordinator of Chess Activities
Fullerton Host Lions Club

* Remember Susan Polgar's motto: "Win with grace, lose with dignity
**
Here is a wonderful commentary on the game of chess by America's greatest statesman:
In "Benjamin Franklin, an American Life" Walter Isaacson writes: "One of Franklin's famous
passions was chess,... He saw the game as a metaphor for both diplomacy and life, a point
he made explicit in a bagatelle he wrote in 1779 on "The Morals of Chess" ..."The game of
chess is not merely an idle amusement, several valuable qualities of the mind, useful in
the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it
.
For life is a kind of chess, in which we have often points to gain and competitors or adversaries
to contend with". Chess, he said, "taught foresight, circumspection, caution, and the importance
of not being discouraged. There was also an important etiquette to be practiced: never hurry your
opponent, do not try to deceive by pretending to have made a bad move, and never gloat in victory:
"Moderate your desire of victory over our adversary,
and be pleased with the one over yourself."

3) A Thumbnail History of Chess

Quotes from IM GM Arthur Bisguier “Ten Tips to Winning Chess”


Chess has a longer and richer history than any other game.  Historians are uncertain of the exact details, but most agree that it was invented about 1,400 years ago in India.  Although this early version, called chaturanga, has changed through the centuries, today’s chess players would find it remarkably similar to the game we play today*. More than 13 centuries after its invention chess continues to fascinate everyone who enjoys an exciting mental challenge.  The “Game of Kings” has become the “King of Games”.

In the middle ages, chess was known as the “Game of Kings” and the “Royal Game”, because it was mainly played by nobility. That changed, however, as its popularity spread in the mid-1800’s. Today the World Chess Federation (FIDE) brings together millions of chess players from nearly 150 nations.  Modern chess enthusiasts thus share a rich heritage. Among their number they can count such famous personalities as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Pope John Paul II.

In America more than 100,000 chess players, from beginner to grandmaster, enjoy the benefits offered by the US Chess Federation. Members include people from all walks of life – school children and retired people, musicians and computer scientists, politicians and professional athletes.

The game was popularized in the US by a brilliant tactician, Paul Morphy around 1860.  Germans and English dominated the game until the early thirties, when the Russians made it their national game, and dominated the scene thereafter. The only non-Russian world champion in the last 70 years was Bobby Fischer**, who won the title in 1972, only to forfeit it  by refusing to defend it. However the strength of US chess is on the rise - there are at least two American players among the elite top fifteen players in the world.

* It is worth noting that the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans all have their own version of chess, more or less similar to international chess. Many men and women Chinese players have risen to the top levels of international chess in the past two decades 

** Bobby has not played competitive chess since 1972. Bobby lived in Japan for a while, then found refuge in Iceland, the scene of his 1972 triumph, where he passed away in early 2008.


Click here for Lion's "Tips" for effective Chess Tournament Play

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