Conversations quieted Sunday in a Fairfield Avenue gymnasium as three dozen children and adults took their places at the tables and chairs set up for the mental sport about to be on display – chess.
The tournament was part of Take a Stan Chess Day, a free event for all ages and skill levels. It was hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne; Take a Stan is a local chess club.
Perhaps nobody was as eager for the event as 9-year-old Aereon Haralson. The South Wayne Elementary School student has become obsessed with the centuries-old game since he began playing a year ago, said his mother, Darianasha Haralson.
“He loves it so much,” she said, adding Aereon's interest in physical sports has taken a back seat to the board game.
Chevelle Brown, a guest from Detroit, said chess players learn to solve complex problems and make wise decisions. She teaches the game through her business, I Teach Chess.
“Of course, they win at chess,” Brown said. “But they win at life, too.”
Jim Bradley, who won a state chess title as a child, brought his own set. The founder of Century 21 Bradley Realty Inc. said he learned to play from his father, and a Google search only recently made him aware of the skills – including patience and perseverance – he likely learned from the game.
The intergenerational aspect is one factor Joe Jordan appreciates about chess. The Boys & Girls Clubs president and CEO said he hopes children transfer the lessons they learn from the chessboard to their everyday lives, such as how each move is important.
Haralson doesn't need to master the game to understand how it's helping her son. Aereon isn't a social butterfly, she said, but he amazed her by talking with people during Chess Day.
Aereon also is a patient teacher as she learns, Haralson said.
“He beat me, like, 12 times,” she said.