The championship chess team at Henderson Middle School is facing its biggest challenge yet and it had nothing to do with the sophisticated board game.
The team, which struggles to raise funds for competitions, is now looking for ways to come up with $40,000 to compete in the US Chess Federation Supernationals VI that will take place at Nashville in May.
To get there, the team must raise the $40k to cover travel and lodging. The chess team previously raised $16,000. Ramirez said the funds were used to cover regional tournament play. He added that the school and community have done an excellent job fundraising but more help is needed to reach the fundraising goal.
Seventh grader Carlos Palomino said playing chess helped him develop his thinking.
“It’s helped me change my perception of everything,” he said. “I see things a different way. If I’m walking I picture the chess board and think about my move—should I spend money should I save—something as simple as that.
Fellow teammate, Juan Ramirez said it has helped him concentrate and be more patient.
“It helps me in math and teaches me what to do in life, like teaching me how to do the right thing.”
Aime Argandona, said she likes her coach because he not only teaches chess, he teaches them about life.
“He teaches us how to become better people,” she said.
Ramirez, 31, has been playing chess since his formative years. Now in the running for teacher of the year, he has spent the last 7 years trying to teach students a game, he says, requires skills, patience and challenging work. The Henderson chess team just came off an impressive showing at state. A team of 34 players won the 2017 Texas Scholastic Chess Championship North/Central at Arlington.
During his tenure at Henderson, Ramirez and his team have amassed six state championships in chess and two national titles.
“They are walking with pride,” Ramirez said about his players. “Chess is a game that anyone can play but it requires hard work and dedication just like anything in life.”
The goal of the chess club is more than just win titles, Ramirez added. He wants to teach students about discipline, patience and leadership. Ramirez penned those teaching experiences on his upcoming book, “The Champion’s Game,” a book about how chess helped him and his students learn about life beyond the game and the classroom. His book is scheduled for release in May.
“I’m very strict,” Rodriguez said about his approach to coaching students and setting student expectations.
“There’s a lot that chess can offer to people. Discipline and practice that’s what got us to the championship.”
If you are interested in donating to the Henderson Middle School Chess Team contact the school at 915-236-0700.