Competitive youth chess is making its mark in southern Delaware. A large group of students, parents, friends and coaches gathered March 22 at Milton Public Library to play in the first Milton Youth Chess Club Spring Tournament.
“We were so pleased that, for our first tournament, we had 16 participants and a supportive group of friends and family to cheer them on,” said Ryan McCrea, tournament director. After three 60-minute rounds, the winners in two divisions were declared.
In the 5-10 age group, Ayush Batra of Lewes was in clear first place with a perfect 3-0 score. Second place went to Alexander Boswell of Rehoboth Beach, while third place went to Devlin Stevenson of Milton on tiebreaks.
In the 11-18 age group, Michael Phillips of Lewes also scored a perfect 3-0. On tiebreaks, second place went to Ryan Czyzia of Rehoboth Beach, and third place went to Collin Cunningham of Milton. The first-place winners received regulation tournament chess sets in travel bags. Second- and third-place winners received books focusing on chess tactics and strategies.
“Thanks to our generous sponsors - Lane Builders LLC, SchagrinGas, Rainbow Pediatrics, and Supreme Scholar - we were able to reward our winners with prizes that will encourage them to continue to learn and grow as chess players,” said McCrea.
The Milton Youth Chess Club began meeting in fall 2012 when Ryan McCrea, a 12-year-old homeschooler from Georgetown, decided to organize the group.
“Although I had been studying chess on my own and traveling to youth tournaments around Delmarva, I missed the excitement of playing with kids my age on a regular basis. I decided to start a club that would be open to all students, no matter their school, age or experience level. At first we only had a few elementary-age students from Milton show up for meetings, but over time we have grown to include kids of all ages from Georgetown, Lewes, Milton and Rehoboth,” McCrea said.
“This year, we decided that with a growing number of youth in our own club and local scholastic clubs, we should have enough interest to start a youth tournament. Luckily, we had developed a good relationship with the Milton library, so they were eager to host and promote the tournament for us. We hope that this tournament can become an annual spring event for our club,” McCrea said.
The Milton Youth Chess Club meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month during the school year at the Milton Public Library. Membership in the club is free and open to all players ages 5 to 18.