When the first Queen City Classic Chess Tournament was held in 2002, it attracted 350 students. The numbers grew each subsequent year, sending a clear message: kids craved more chess. In 2013, the Queen City Classic Chess in Schools Program launched, introducing chess to students enrolled in Greater Cincinnati schools. To date, the game of chess is incorporated into more than 40 local schools’ curricula, and the Queen City Classic Chess Tournament draws 700 participants.
The logical next step was to bring the game to college freshmen– a stage of life when students are heartily seeking fun and fellowship. Therefore, the Cris Collinsworth ProScan Fund began a partnership with Xavier University two years ago, offering a freshman chess seminar to the curriculum. Right from the start, student response was so phenomenal that a second class was added immediately.
During the Freshman Chess Seminar, Xavier students discuss the educational benefit of the game – especially when introduced at an early age, as it empowers children and enhances behavioral and cognitive skills. The Xavier students visit local schools and witness the positive impacts that chess has on youth. Whether they are seasoned players or new to the game, they connect with the powerful message that chess changes lives for the better.
“Together they have discovered a kind of bond with one another as they sharpen their skills, learn more about the background of the game, and discover the profound impact it often has on elementary school students and beyond,” says Father Michael Graham, president of Xavier University. “As an educational institution itself, Xavier University takes seriously the importance of strengthening educational opportunities and outcomes in schools generally. We’re happy [that this] partnership has pioneered incorporating chess into school curricula in ways that have strengthened student performance.”
Once a semester, as a special bonus, Xavier students get to participate in a simultaneous exhibition, known as a simul, with board member and chess master Russell Wilson. In the simul, Wilson plays roughly 40 students at the same time.
“I don’t know many college campuses that offer the opportunity to learn the game of chess, the history of the game, and the social aspect of the game,” says Penny Pomeranz,a co-founder of ProScan Imaging and the Cris Collinsworth ProScan Fund. Additionally, Pomeranz appreciates the fact that chess encourages the tech-hungry generation to put their phones down and live in the moment. “It’s so refreshing to watch kids focus and move pieces with their hands.”
The 19th Annual Queen City Classic will take place at the Paul Brown Stadium February 28-29, 2020. Open to the public, the event attracts close to 700 K-12 students from as many as 12 different states.