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Friday, April 17, 2015

14th Annual Queen City Classic Chess Tournament

Local broadcasting celebrity Cris Collinsworth is probably best known for his incredible in-game analysis and witticisms on Sunday Night Football or his actual pigskin prowess on a football field, in either order likely depending upon your generational divide.  However, locally, he is as known for his philanthropic presence from dancing the night away dressed as Batman at the Fort Thomas Education Foundation Dance to his latest charitable endeavor- emcee of the Queen City Classic Chess Tournament where children from the Pleasant Hill Academy grade school who have been participating for the last seven months in the Chess in Schools program (sponsored by the Cris Collinsworth ProScan Fund- CCPF) had the opportunity to battle test their chess skills against local, national, and even international chess masters.

The tournament, which began fourteen years ago, took place over the March 20th weekend and was held once again at Paul Brown Stadium.  Corbin, Jory, and Penny Pomeranz, founders of the tournament, first got the idea to hold it at the stadium after leaving a football game and envisioning how neat a Chess tournament could be at this venue, especially compared to the typical tournament.  They envisioned emcees, grand masters, ongoing chess lessons, and a fun and engaged crowd compared to the stale tournaments where dinner was vending machine leftovers.
 It is safe to say they executed well as this year’s tournament boasted 700 participants from eleven different states and 400 from Greater Cincinnati alone.
Maggie Fennell, Executive Director of the CCPF said of the tournament, “The QCC Chess Tournament has such a variety of students from all over the Midwest playing! Students come from all different economic backgrounds, races, ages, etc.  Some of the students who participate in the Queen City Classic have lost parents to drug overdoses or similar causes; have parents with criminal records and who are in prison. Some of them do not have a bed to sleep on at night or food for the weekend. The QCC Chess Tournament not only provides these children an opportunity to enjoy a day in an NFL stadium, where they are given a new clean t-shirt, a free lunch, and a warm place to spend the weekend, it is an opportunity where they compete on an equal basis with students of all different economic backgrounds, something that for many of these students, is a rare occurrence.”
She went on to state the importance of learning sportsmanship for the underprivileged participants and the life lessons learned as well: “For some of the students who participate, winning a chess trophy and wearing a medal home is a reminder to them that they can accomplish their goals if they put their minds to it. Chess is a game that forces the mind to think one, two, three steps ahead. It is a game that teaches children to think before they act. As a chess player, you are constantly thinking, if I make this move, then that move, my opponent may take this piece, or that piece. The same concept is carried over in life. For example, when these students are faced with the question of riding home with a drunk driver, the concepts they learned in chess will help them to make the safe decision not to get in the car with a drunk driver, because they will be thinking of the consequences steps ahead.”

Now, 19 different local schools participate in the Chess in Schools program and hundreds of kids each year can brag that they’ve gone from never having played chess before to playing against an internal grand master in only 7 months.  For more information about the tournament or about CCPF, find the Queen City Class website here and CCPF here.

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