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Memphis City Schools are out for the summer, and some kids are playing it smart with a game of chess. The Lester Chess Team stopped in the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on the second floor for a few games of early morning chess. Lester Elementary students are gearing up for the United States Chess Federation Junior Open in July. The USCF sanctions chess tournaments with over half a million officially rated games annually. National Championships award titles to both amateurs and professionals, ranging from elementary school students to senior citizens.


Jeff Bulington, Lester Elementary Instructor, started the Lester Chess Club and said the Memphis Public Library & Information Center has served as the location for many chess club practices and games. “The Central Library is the best location for chess club practices because it is so close to the school.”

Ezra Howard, Lester Elementary Instructor, assisted the second group of chess students and said the chess club teaches the kids “skill sets, mathematics, history, reading, and writing skills.” He also mentioned the team of about eight to fourteen kids ages 10 and under travel all over the U.S. for tournaments. “The girl’s team recently traveled to Nashville and Chicago and won 3rd place in the Girls 10 and under National Championship.”

The game doesn’t stop after the chess club members leave Lester Elementary; they have the opportunity to match wits and test their skills and knowledge of the game with Lester Middle School chess club players and join the club.