The Springs River Festival doesn’t officially take place until April 5-7, but it actually got under way on Saturday, March 2.
Long before attendees can enjoy two stages of alternating music, an array of food vendors, along with Dr. Campbell’s famous pet show, Cake Bake-Off, Chili Showdown and fishing tournament, there was a chess tournament on Saturday, March 2 at the Miami Springs Recreation Center.
All participants received a keychain. First-, second- and third-place winners received chess sets.
The winners, who will be recognized during the Springs River Festival, were:
New player division: Brittany Bolton, first; Fouzia Raza, second; Giovanni DelGaudio, third.
Beginner division: Ana Silvia Daniel, first; Justin Hogan, second; Norlen Nunez, third.
Intermediate division: Adrian Perez, first; Tyler Winchester, second; Rodney Wimberly, third.
Councilwoman Grace Bain, Hialeah Miami Springs Rotary, Mac Edwards, Francisco Arguelles, C.P.A., and the City of Miami Springs sponsored the tournament to players of all abilities in grades 3 through 6, including homeschoolers. Twenty-nine students (Miami Springs, Hialeah and Kendall) were divided into sections and each section played five chess matches.
“Chess is a fun mental sport,” said Katie Ortiz, Miami Springs Middle School teacher chairperson. “Chess is a good game to play to exercise the brain in strategy thinking.”
Said contestant: Loren Dinnoo: “It was hard playing against my friend. We are in the same class. Me and him were losing at the same time. When I moved a piece he would move the same piece. Then we took out each other. We had the same pieces left. We agreed to a draw.”
The game improves concentration and focus. However, there are several other benefits to the game. The game helps children with their creativity, discipline, time management, self-esteem, confidence and social skills. And studies have shown the game has helped children with their reading and math skills.
Said Nikki Howard, Festival volunteer and treasurer: “This one particular child comes a long way. He has to take public transportation. I believe he takes two buses and then uses his skateboard to make it the rest of the way to the recreation center. He was here last year and again this year. This is what motivates me to continue putting on events like this for the children.”
• Constantino Hernandez, chess facilitator at Melrose Elementary: “I brought eight children with me to this tournament to get them some experience. Chess to me is a way of helping our children think and be more in tune with the way to think strategically. It helps them in all subjects … specifically with math and to think outside the box.”
• Eldora Sims, grandmother of Rakayla Peek, K-4 student at Melrose Elementary: “I’m excited about it. I like to support our children. She is one of the youngest players in her school. I just want her to have fun and enjoy the challenge.”
• Adrian Perez, student at MS Middle School: “Most of it was pretty smooth sailing. There was one moment in the game when it was like a hostage situation. I moved a piece, he would grab it, but if he moved a piece, I would grab it. It was all about the test of wits and stamina. In the end it all worked out for me.”
• Jenny Delacruz, student at MS Middle School: “I’ve never been in a tournament before but I am in chess clubs. I just wanted to join in and have some fun.”
• Louis Ramos, student at MS Middle School: “I love chess so much that it really doesn’t matter if I win or lose. The most important part is making friends. Chess is entertaining. It keeps your mind active. You have to think before you move.”