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Only Son

Lake O' the Pawns

In Only Son

By J. Smith IV
May 11, 2017 at 5:44 a.m.

My passion for chess has been my offering to give something back to Longview as I returned here to work and live mid-December 2011:  my two little fishes and five loaves of bread.  I have worked to cultivate an interest in chess with family households throughout East Texas.  In my efforts to coordinate and organize something in the way of a chess society in Longview, I formed a group called "Lake O' the Pawns."  

Many have come together as a people from different backgrounds and rich value systems, to either be properly introduced to the game of kings, to discover some life-lesson connected to the game or simply to have fellowship over the sixty-four strategic squares of the chess board once a month.

Included within Lake O' the Pawns has been a quiet progressive community of homeschool families.  From our meeting times outdoors at Jackson Park, to the indoor comforts of the Longview Books-A-Million to the Longview Fellowship Bible Church Adult Center to the Longview Putt-Putt Golf & Games, our time together has been well spent these past five years.

I'd like to offer my most sincere "THANKS!" to the family-owned Longview Putt-Putt Golf & Games at 2630 Bill Owens Prkwy, which is owned by Mr. & Mrs. Hugh and Mary Barnhart, under operation by Mr. Steve Barnhart.  For love of chess and children, Manager Steve Barnhart and his son Mr. Michael Barnhart graciously hosted the Lake O' the Pawns Chess Meet-Ups the first Friday of each month in the Putt-Putt Golf & Games birthday suite at no charge to our group.  The space provided over the last nine months alone is valued at $500, based on the hourly rental fees to use the facility.  Lake O' the Pawns chess participants also received free, unlimited putt-putt golf play immediately following the one hour of chess instruction and play.  I can think of no better Longview News Journal "Gusher" nomination for generosity than that which has been afforded to Lake O' the Pawns Chess by the Barnhart family and staff at Putt-Putt Golf & Games, these last nine months! 

Cinco de Mayo 2017 at Putt-Putt Golf & Games was a fine conclusion to five years of chess projects and initiatives which have included community chess club play with Lake O' the Pawns, United States Chess Federation-rated tournaments, including the first annual Middleton Memorial Chess Open in Gilmer, Texas May 7, 2016, the formation of LISD, Jefferson ISD and other school chess clubs throughout the East Texas area, along with the inclusion of UIL Chess-Puzzle Solving events.

Other noteworthy chess milestones include two students from Henry L. Foster Middle School in February, who returned with a first and second place medal for critical thinking and problem-solving skills demonstrated in a K-8 LISD UIL event.  

The Foster Middle School sixth grade student who won first place for the Chess Puzzle-Solving event,  learned the rules of the game this 2016-2017 school year, under the direction of FMS' first and only UIL Chess Sponsor.  The school chess sponsor's personal time, dedication and resources proved to be a win-win for all involved in the effort, especially the students! 

While the rules of chess is not that difficult to learn, it may take a lifetime to master.  

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