Richard Bennett, Chess for Kids Organizer, Bearden Library

How does Chess for Kids work?

I help provide a venue and around a dozen kids come and play; instruction is asserted where I see the opportunity. I also pair the players to some degree, trying to get kids together who are about the same skill level. We don't want anyone to lose all their games.

What type of child is able to play chess?

I think all kids can play, but will all kids like chess? No. How often do you think really hard, exercise the muscle that is the brain? Chess does that. Kids have to accept the challenge of learning to think hard, to work at it, if they want to get to be good. Some kids just like the pattern, the pieces, and that's fine, too.

How did you learn chess?

I think I learned in the family when I was really young, but it wasn't until I was browsing in a book store and saw a book on chess that my interest really took off. There's a Knoxville Chess Club. I'm not real active lately, but I'm in it. It meets at the Unitarian church. I do play Blitz Chess online; it's timed, really fast.

How old were you when it got really interesting?

I was in middle school; now kids start much earlier. The average age of the kids at the library is seven or eight. I also teach chess at some schools and have private students, they're a little older, third or fourth grade. Chess really is a kid's game—the best chess player in the world is Magnus Carlsen, a Norwegian who's just turned 19. And these young chess players don't seem to be the nerdy ones they were in my childhood. They're real healthy, outgoing, natural people—normal people.

Can any of the library kids beat you?

Not yet.

Chess for Kids is free at the Bearden Library 12 noon-1 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, knoxlib.org or call the branch at 588-8813