Will Mitchell tells an anecdotal story about two grandmasters who were playing chess.

One chess player casually moved his piece on the board, then sank into deep thought.

After nine long hours, the other chessmaster — who was rather agitated — stood and asked his opponent: “Will you make a move?”

Suddenly, the other player jerked to life.

“Wha…?” he said. “I thought it was your move!”

Nothing like that should happen on Saturday when area students gather for Speed Chess. This is the second year local children and youth will gather for lively, time-controlled games of chess.

Speed Chess starts at 10 a.m. in the family center of First Baptist Church on Sixth Street between C and D streets, in Fremont. The entrance is to the back of the building.

Cost is $5 per player, payable at the door. Scholarships are available.

“It’s exciting. It coaxes the adrenalin up a little bit more than regular chess. In the building of chess skills, it tests the strategizing and board visualization of the players at a faster rate of decision making — and it’s a whole lot of fun,” said Will Mitchell, president and organizer of Imaginarium, Inc., and ChessFest.

Held annually at Midland University, ChessFest allows students to play the game with others from throughout the community. That event takes place in April.

Speed Chess began last year.

“We wanted to provide another event in the fall for the chess clubs,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who earlier this year was named the “Distinguished Friend of Education” by Fremont Public Schools, has helped launch several chess clubs, which have become a network.

Mitchell started clubs at Bell Field and then Howard Elementary schools.

In the last several years, he helped jump start chess clubs at Fremont Middle School, Johnson Crossing Academic Center and Clarmar and Bergan elementary schools, FPS data states.

New clubs were started at Linden and Washington elementary schools this year with one expected to start in Cedar Bluffs.

A girls’ chess brunch has taken place for many years in November, but Mitchell and others wanted something boys also could attend in the fall — thus the organization of a Speed Chess event.

The event this Saturday will involve chess clocks.

“We had the good fortune of being able to use funds generated through ChessFest to get the clocks necessary to hold an event like this,” he said.

A chess clock has two faces. It also has two switches on top. Both clocks are set to a certain time limit.

For Speed Chess, clocks will be set, starting at 10 minutes per side.

One player will click his or her clock switch and the time will start for the other player.

That player will move a piece on the chess board. Then he’ll hit his switch, pausing his own clock, and starting the time for the other player.

While a player can lose a game by being checkmated, he or she also could lose by running out of time in Speed Chess.

So good time management skills are needed.

Mitchell added that chess clocks are standard at tournaments like those in Omaha. Those clocks might be set for 45 minutes per side.

“But we like to make it a bit more exciting,” Mitchell said.

Speed Chess in Fremont will be targeted toward players from second to eighth grade.

“We will allow younger kids in if they can play chess well and think they can hold their own,” he said. “You really have to know how the moves go and be comfortable with playing chess.”

Speed Chess has been a smaller event than ChessFest.

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Last year, about 20 players participated for Speed Chess, while more than 150 took part in ChessFest.

“It’s still a good, fun, intimate little event,” Mitchell said of Speed Chess.

Mitchell appreciates how children and youth can benefit from playing chess.

He believes it provides an activity for kids who may not be sports-oriented and/or who don’t feel very comfortable joining groups.

“It’s a way to learn a fun game and have a good time interacting with fellow players, but also it teaches thinking, decision-making, reflections on bad decisions and dealing with success and failure — and has also shown to improve concentration and classroom performance,” he said.

It can help a kid’s personal improvement, too.

“I’ve seen amazing maturity happen to these young people over the years as they play chess,’ he said.

Mitchell hopes to see more chess clubs.

“One of our goals is to see all the schools in Fremont have some sort of chess opportunity for kids,” he said.

Flyers with information about the chess clubs go out at the beginning or end of a school year. Parents also can reach out to imaginefremont@gmail.com if their child’s school doesn’t have a club.

“We provide coach training, club syllabuses and equipment at no charge,” Mitchell said.

The 2018 ChessFest will be on April 21.

For more information about Speed Chess, call 402-909-5236.

More information about ChessFest may be found at Facebook.com/fremontchessfest

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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