This story was edited on 11/05/19 to correct an error in which the Knights of the Square Table was incorrectly described to be a rebranded version of the Spring Hill Homeschool Chess Club. The Spring Hill Homeschool Chess Club is its own separate organization.
Knights of the Square Table is a new chess club in Spring Hill that has recently attained nonprofit status, as well as become incorporated as an organization back in May.
In addition to welcoming children and teens from ages 5 - 17, the chess club will soon be expanding to accept adults interested in learning and mastering the game of chess. For the time being, however, the club is only accepting youth from ages 5 - 17, and focuses on helping its members in a variety of ways.
“It's proven that you will do better in math, science and reading [if you play chess],” said founder and owner of the club Patricia Morrison. “People that have disabilities with learning can overcome those faster if they play chess - it's the same part of the brain.”
“They develop social skills and have one-on-one communication with other children - in chess, we call that 'over the board.' When you're playing a game over the board in person, you're having that social interaction. That's something we don't take into consideration when we think about chess club.”
The club is currently held at the Winchester Community Center every Friday from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m., though Morrison said the club is very flexible when it comes to the club's schedule.
“We have a lot of flexibility,” Morrison said. “The kids are welcome to play chess the whole time, or play one game [and] have some snacks and go to the park for a few minutes. Or, they can learn tactics. We teach tactics - they're not required to learn them - or they can volunteer to teach somebody else tactics. So they can teach, be taught or play - it's their choice.”
Morrison explained that the chess club has a ticket-based incentive program in place where for every skill learned, taught to another member, or game won, a member receives a ticket. The more tickets a member earns, the higher chance they’ll be selected at the end of the day during a raffle drawing. If selected, members will get a chance to grab one of the many weekly prizes provided by Morrison.
Beyond better performance at school, Morrison said that the game also teaches immediate lessons in integrity, as well as more long lasting lessons that stretch well into adulthood.
“In chess club, the kids have to have integrity,” Morrison said. “We talk about honesty and what that means, because in chess club, you have to be able to trust your chess mates, that they're not going to cheat or lie about a game or a move. So it's a life skill they're learning as well.”
“It's [also] said that if you play chess, as an adult you will make better decisions because you are learning consequences first-hand. It helps them make decisions because they see the consequences of their decisions the whole time they're playing chess.”
A mastery of chess could even lead to a full-ride to select colleges, Morrison explained, with one local example being Tennessee Tech University.
“You can get a full-ride scholarship in college here in Tennessee - there are a lot of colleges that will offer you a full ride if you play on their chess team and if you're any good,” Morrison said. “We do have several full-ride scholarships that are available form Tennessee Tech here in this area.”
Ultimately, Morrison said that whether an interested person is experienced, or has never touched a chess set before, all are welcome to the newly established Knights of the Square Table.
“It's not something you need to know how to play either,” Morrison said. “A lot of people have the misconception that they need to know how to play to join a chess club - you don't need to know how to play, you can walk in and not even know the pieces and we will teach you.”
Membership to Knights of the Square Table is $20 a quarter (summer, fall, winter and spring), and is open to all experience levels. Those interested in joining the club may contact organizers via Facebook by clicking here, or are welcome to join in person by visiting the Winchester Community Center any Friday from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
The Winchester Community Center is located at 563 Maury Hill St. in Spring Hill, just off of Main Street.