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Looking for a few good players

For more than 18 months, about 14 Tonica children in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, have met every Friday afternoon to learn how to play chess.

It all began one Christmas.

"It was like Christmas, and I got a chess set, and that was how it started," said Nathan Carlson. "So my mom said she would start a chess club."

And that's exactly what DeAnna Carlson did. She started a club for any interested children.

Carlson said the club has done better than she ever expected.

"I started the chess club, so that the students of Tonica — my children and the other children of Tonica — would have an alternative to video-gaming and another window to the world," she said. "I was really surprised to have such an interest and such a long-term interest that the students are excited."

The children say they enjoy playing chess in part because it helps them do better in school, but mostly because it's just plain fun.

Now the Tonica kids would like to share the fun.

Carlson has sent a letter to 20 public and private school superintendents in LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties to invite their students in Grades 3 through 8 to participate in one or more intermural chess meet and greets.

The meet and greets will be hosted by the North Central Regional Betterment Coalition at the Peru City Hall Community Building on April 13 and May 4. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the meet will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Schools can participate with a sponsor, and students or a student may attend individually with a parent.

Carlson would like to see the meet and greets as a predecessor to forming a regional interscholastic chess league in the fall semester.

Carlson said the chess league is open to sponsorship from any one person, corporate, or non-profit to purchase tournament chess boards and clocks for the children. Only $500 would sustain the league's start-up and growth for two years.

For any additional information, questions or to RSVP, contact Carlson at, 815-223-2949 (office) or 815-488-6611 (cell).

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