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The Sheridan Chess Association is holding their first tournament this weekend

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The Sheridan Chess Association (SCA) will be hosting their first ever tournament this weekend at Sheridan College for all ages and skill levels.

Formed in December, the association is a non-profit organization that aims to teach the game of chess to the community and especially to young people as an educational tool.

“We’ve had tremendous community support for this effort and for our youth program,” said Brian Kuehl, the Sheridan Chess Association treasurer. “We’ve had 35 or 40 kids showing up every Thursday for chess lessons and open play, so [there’s] real enthusiasm from kids and parents as well.”

Free weekly chess lessons for youth started about a month and a half ago.

“It’s been great, I mean we’ve found huge amounts of community support,” Kuehl said. “Businesses really like this idea, it’s a good fit for Sheridan in terms of raising the profile of our community and all that we have to offer and I think because of things like "The Queen’s Gambit", chess has really become a lot more popular.”

An exhibition event will be held before the tournament on April 29 with chess great Alexander Fishbein from Tennessee, who has held the title of Grandmaster since 1992 and has won multiple chess titles over the past three decades. Besides the title of world champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain and is held for life.

“He will play 25 simultaneous games [Fishbein] against people from Sheridan and participants in the tournament,” Kuehl said. “We’re reserving four slots for kids from Sheridan, so two boys and two girls will get to play against a Grandmaster as one of their first formal games.”

The tournament will be held Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1. Competitors from across the country and at all skill levels will participate. Kuehl said that there will be some Grandmasters on hand as well as four participants and their coaches from Kyrgyzstan, the only international representation.

Though this is SCA’s first tournament, Kuehl said a director has been hired that’s had experience coordinating over 100 chess tournaments. Approximately 100 participants are expected to compete and play five games over the course of the tournament, regardless of whether they win or lose.

Registration is open until the beginning of the tournament, including same day registration on April 30.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our community and the region,” said Tim Lawson, President of the Sheridan Chess Association in a press release. “We are hosting a premier chess tournament and hope to make this a standing spring event in the Northern Rockies.”

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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