Curiosity, attention to detail, dedication to a passion — they're all byproducts of Durham Academy's chess program!
The game has a rich tradition at DA. The school's chess teams have won three national team titles, and individual successes have included myriad national and state championships. More than 175 DA kindergartners have played at least one rated game of chess since 2003.
Participation is mostly concentrated among the youngest students at DA; each year, about 60 to 65 percent of all kindergarteners try their hand at the game. It's a natural fit for young learners, says coach Craig Jones: "Most children can learn the basics in a couple hours (or faster) and be able to play a reasonable game and go from there as they may. Kids don't really think of how difficult chess is, they just play and learn and give it a try. The idea that it’s difficult, and too daunting a task to try, is an alien concept that only seems to infect us at a much later age in life."
DA's chess program began with several one-day chess classes in fall 2002, but it really took off in the spring of 2003 when Jones began offering regular, organized classes. Now, two semesters of chess are offered each school year, with separate classes for each age group, ranging from kindergarten to Upper School.