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18 schools compete in District chess championships (photo gallery)

In the heat of a chess battle, the room is almost completely silent. Measured breathing. The scrape of a white plastic knight making its move. A black pawn taken off the board and dropped aside like a failed foot soldier. The scratch of a pencil as your opponent jots down your move. The shuffling shoes of parents at the edge, waiting and watching.

And then pandemonium. Well, pandemonium chess-player style: A smile, a handshake and pat on the back from the adults in the room and some scattered applause.

That was the scene Monday afternoon at CMSD's Max S. Hayes High School on Detroit Avenue. Dozens of District students from 10 elementary schools (sixth- through eighth-graders) and eight high schools jammed into a second-floor library to do battle in the citywide finals that concluded their season. 
For Jamal Gibson of Cleveland School of the Arts, it was also a repeat: Once again he won the top high school prize after four hours of chess competition, taking the championship on "first board," the highest level of difficulty. 
The second-board winner for high school players was Adrian Alexander from the John Hay Campus.
The K-8 winners were both from Joseph M. Gallagher: Dickson Adhikari on first board and Pradip Rai on second.
In a ceremony just prior to the final matches,  Lynn Furman, coordinator of athletics and student activities for the District, told the student players who were assembled: “You should be especially proud of yourselves” for making it to the final tournament.

“If you are successful in chess, there is a very good chance you will be successful in life,” Furman said as she arranged for the players to receive their medals for taking part in the event. “We know that our season is done, but we hope that you find private leagues and other ways to keep playing, because that's the point of all this: To keep playing chess.”

Jeffrey Butts of the non-profit program “Chess Is Life,” agreed.

“We teach them about life by teaching them about chess,” said Butts, who came to the District tournament to cheer on some of the players he and his partners have coached in the group. “But you see who they are standing with right now during their group pictures? Their teachers – and that's the way it ought to be. We just want to come alongside and help that.”

Students from the following schools participated in the chess championships with their coaches:

Elementary schools: Adlai Stevenson, Artemus Ward, Benjamin Franklin, Kenneth W. Clement Boys' Leadership Academy, Joseph M. Gallagher, Miles Park, Patrick Henry, Wade Park and Warner Girls' Leadership Academy.

High schools: Cleveland School of the Arts, Ginn Academy, Glenville, James F. Rhodes, John Hay Campus, Martin Luther King Jr. Campus, Max S. Hayes and New Tech West.

The citywide tournament is the brainchild of retired CMSD mathematics teacher Ken Fiore, who has been running the competition for more than three decades.