By Douglas W. Motley
Last weekend’s Rumble on the Rim chess tournament, held on Saturday, March 12 in Rim High School’s cafeteria, pitted chess teams from Serrano Elementary School in Moreno Valley and Rim High School against one another in a high-stakes chess tournament to decide who would ultimately claim the coveted first-place trophy.
The tournament, which is held semi-annually, was sponsored by the Riverside Youth Chess Association, a group that, according to Dr. Steve Morford, hosts monthly chess tournaments at schools throughout the Inland Empire.
Morford, who is a former special education director for Riverside Unified School District, told The Alpine Mountaineer, “Tournaments are held once a month, with players showing up from Riverside County schools, as well as the Rim school district and home school, charter schools and Lake Arrowhead Christian School.” Morford added, “Any K-12 student with knowledge of chess can play in our monthly tournaments.”
Pointing out that chess has the largest body of literature of any game, Morford said, “Chess can be played by both sexes and requires no physical skill. Chess is an intellectually based hobby where students can feel successful and good about themselves. There is evidence that children who play chess acquire critical thinking and organizational skills that can lead to success in school. It involves planning and concentration, traits that are helpful in many fields.”
Retired teacher Keith Martin, who plays host to all such tournaments held at Rim High, suggests students seriously interested in becoming proficient at playing chess join the school’s chess club and attend lunchtime practice sessions in teacher Jose Lara’s classroom.
“It would be great if every school in the district had a chess club,” Martin said. “Jose opens his classroom at noon every Tuesday and Wednesday in Room 204. However, they can come every day if they want to,” Martin said, adding, “I usually see no less than six to 10 chessboards in play at these noontime club meetings.”
Martin, who has been hosting chess tournaments at Rim High School for the past seven years, said the last one was held there in the fall of 2019. “Unfortunately, there were no tournaments held in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. There weren’t as many players here today as we’ve had in the past, but I’m super happy that we got two dozen players here today.”
Last Saturday’s tournament got underway at 8:30 a.m. and attracted 24 students from Moreno Valley elementary schools as well as Rim of the World High School. The first trophies were handed out to players from Serrano Elementary School in Moreno Valley following a noon lunch break that featured pizza and assorted chips and sodas. Capturing first place was Richard Tobin, while second-place honors went to Huver Rios and third place was won by Enrico Rios.
The last round of games, which featured students from Rim High School, went into overtime due to extra games played to end a surprise three-way tie involving Thomas Viramontes, Jeramiah Hust and Alexander Gray. The atmosphere was tense as players acted quickly to pick up each other’s chess pieces.
The final moment of the tournament came shortly after 1:30 p.m. when Alexander Gray called, “Checkmate!” When asked how long he has been playing chess, Alex – who is a senior – responded, “I’ve been playing for about 10 years, but I have been more active over the past four years.”
Taking home a second place trophy was Jeramiah Hust, who said he had learned how to play chess by playing against his father, as well as at the YMCA. Third place was won by Thomas Viramontes, a Rim High sophomore who said he had been playing since he was 10 years old and that he had been taught by his dad.