Knights storm Albany castles

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- In a fight where mental skills override brute force, two chess teams met in battle Saturday at Westover High School.

For the first time, teams from Westover and Monroe high schools met to checkmate, win bragging rights and eat the inevitable hot dogs and chips.

"Chess makes better students. It sharpens their reasoning skills," said John Daughety, Westover math teacher and chess team coach.

"It gives students something positive to do on a Saturday."

Quiet concentration left players eyes riveted on the chess boards as they played. One player, Shaquille Rivers of Westover, knew he had his opponent, Aric Cuffie of Monroe, on the run -- he smiled.

Rivers said he found his way to chess by learning from his stepfather. Cuffie said his father got him interested.

"My stepdad taught me, but then I started learning on my own," Rivers said. "This is a good fun way to spend Saturday."

Daughety said that his team started to play maybe a year ago. It all came from his having a chess board nearby as he taught.

"We play Wednesday afternoons," Daughety said. "Antonio McNeal came and asked, next we had about 10 to 20 interested."

McNeal is the Westover chess team captain. When his brother Ryan Lewis, wearing music ear buds reports he lost his match, McNeal gives his advice."

"I told you not to listen to music when you play," McNeal said. "You listen to music, I'm not going to put you in the next tournament."

Lewis said he listens to Rap music when he plays. Chess master Bobby Fisher and several generations of chess lovers probably rolled over in their graves.

Aiming to spread the fun and the competition the players and their coaches said they hope to expand the competition to include all the Dougherty County high schools.

"It would be really great to get all the schools involved," said Charles Fulton, Monroe team captain. "I'm the best player here and I'd get to play more games."

Did someone mention Bobby Fisher?