Local students win with pawns and rooks

Several Shelby County students took home prizes from the first Martin Luther King Scholastic Chess Tournament held at Kingwood Christian School Jan. 16.

Alabaster resident Wyatt Rickles came in second place in the tournament’s K-3 primary class, and Alabaster students Jacob Sherman and Andrew Collins took home third and sixth place in the novice class, respectively.

Maylene residents Russell Pierce and Nathan Arvizu placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the K-3 primary class. Helena resident Trevor Russell placed third in the same class.

Pelham resident Kemesor Mejeidu came in fourth in the K-6 bishop class, and Thanushri Srikantha took home first place in the novice class.

In the team competition, Evangel Classical Christian School, composed of Wyatt Rickles, Trevor Russell, Nathan Arvizu and Russell Pierce, won the K-3 primary class.

Another Evangel team, composed of Trent Russell, Colton Benedict, Adam Pierce and Andrew Collins, won the K-8 novice class. Carl Benedict coached both Evangel teams.

The Oak Mountain Intermediate School team, composed of Eric Marin, Benjamin Boone, Jacob Alldredge, Matt Evans and Ishmael Muhannad, won second place in the K-8 novice class. Tournament organizer Caesar Lawrence coached the Oak Mountain team.

About 40 students participated in the inaugural scholastic tournament, and Lawrence said those who participated are “on their way to becoming some of the best chess players in Birmingham.”

“The children with their bright eyes, big smiles and confused frowns pushed pawns across the board, let their knights dance like everyone was watching and rallied their rooks to help the queen checkmate the opponent’s king,” Lawrence, director of the Birmingham-based Caesar Chess, wrote in an e-mail.

“It’s a joy when you can help a child achieve his or her best,” he added.

Caesar Chess will return to Alabaster March 6, as it holds its second city tournament at Thompson Intermediate School off U.S. 31. To register or learn more about the upcoming tournament, visit Caesarchess.com.