On August 10, 25 young men gathered from all over the state to match wits over a chessboard. The occasion? The Second Annual All-OYA Invitational Chess Tournament, sponsored by Chess for Success, which also provides the equipment for OYA’s chess program.
Youth participated from five OYA facilities: Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility in Burns, MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility in Grants Pass, and Camp Tillamook and Tillamook Youth Correctional Facility in Tillamook.
Why chess? According to Chess for Success, learning chess helps students develop high-level critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that improve self-esteem, behavior, and academic performance, including attendance, grades, and test scores.
That appeals to youth Ben T., who says he plays chess “because it’s a nice strategic game, and studies show it’s good for brain development. It’s a really fun game.” Cleavland L. echoes this. “Chess makes me use my brain a lot more and I learn from it.”
Josif W. says he’s been playing since he was 4. “I like the mental challenge it puts on me and my opponent.” Joshua W. also says he’s been playing since he was a child. He likes it because “it’s an escape for me from everything else that’s going on.”
The Tillamook Team A took first place with 14.5 points, MacLaren second with 11.5 points, Eastern third with 11 points, Rogue Valley fourth with 10 points, followed by the Tillamook B team at 10.0 points.
Individual place winners included Michael D. at first, with 4.5 points out of five possible; Alfonso K., Cleavland L., and Josh W. in a three-way tie for second with 4 points; and David H. and Austin M. tied at third with 3.5 points.
[Special thanks to Deborah Westoby for photos of the event, and to Jim Cox of Trask High School for providing details of the tournament.]