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BUENA PARK : Chess Team Faces Big Challenge

March 24, 1994|DEBRA CANO

Six chess players from Buena Park Junior High School are preparing their next move.

The students will compete in a U.S. Chess Federation-sponsored tournament next month in New York.

"It's the top of the line, it's like going to the top of the mountain," said Dewain Barber, adviser of the school chess team.

Barber said the students playing in the tournament are the best in the school's 22-member club.

Those competing in the 1994 National Junior High Chess Championships in Rye, N.Y., April 14-18 are Chris Martin, 12; Chris Esguerra, 13; Charles Poovakan, 13; Paul Spillan, 13; Isaac Bravo, 13, and David Howard, 14.

"Whether we win or lose, the challenge will be to play the best players in the United States," said Barber, who teaches history.

Among his young chess pupils, Barber singled out Poovakan as having a shot at a national title.

"His skill level has excelled over the last few months," said Barber, adding that in his age group, Charles holds the Southern California championship.

"Charles has the potential to be a chess master by the time he is out of high school," said Barber, who has turned out a number of masters and experts.

Charles, who has played about 70 tournament games since September, said he plays because chess is fun and he makes new friends at the competitions.

In addition, he said he likes to win the top prizes: trophies and prize money, which he is using to pay for his trip to New York.

The students are raising money to offset the expenses of traveling to the championship tournament, which will cost about $500 for each player. Local organizations have contributed money, but Barber said donations are still needed in order for players to make the trip.

Barber said the students will be doing more than playing chess while in New York. They plan to travel to New York City to see attractions including the Statue of Liberty.

"It's also going to be an educational event so it expands their horizons," he said. Barber, author of "Guide to Scholastic Chess" and "Blindfold Chess Genius," said that chess is a learning tool.

"Chess has a direct relationship with math," he said. "It can be used to improve logic and reasoning processes."

Students agreed. "It helps you get good grades," Chris Esguerra said, adding that the game instills self-discipline. "You learn how to budget your time."

David Howard said he plays chess because "it's the only thing I'm actually good at--that I can put in a lot of effort."

Barber is seeking recognition of the chess club by the school district as a curriculum-related organization.

"The benefit is there won't be any argument whether we should be an organization on campus," he said.

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