Members of the Kingwood Chess Club won big at last year’s Summer Chess Festival. Front row, from left: Julian Rodriguez, Andre Rodriguez and Daniel Quintanilla. Back row: Matthew Peak, Nicholas Peak and Founder/Instructor Claudia Peak.

Most people think chess is a tough game that is difficult to understand and even more difficult to master. Claudia Peak, founder of the Kingwood Chess Club, thinks differently.

“As intimidating as chess may seem for some, there is always something we can learn from playing chess. From learning how to win gracefully and learning how to lose with dignity, no matter the age, chess is for everyone,” she said.

Peak founded the Kingwood Chess Club in 2015 and has seen it flourish to include a dedicated core membership of players who have competed in more than 25 local tournaments. The club is open to students from Kindergarten through high-school age in the greater Kingwood area.

Peak founded the club after her two sons transferred from private school, where her oldest son played chess, to public school. She started inviting friends and neighbors to come play chess and practice as she continued to attend chess tournaments with her sons. Peak’s youngest son began attending chess tournaments when he was in first grade.

“I am very proud to say that many of the students I have helped have earned their very first trophy,” said Peak. “I say a trophy is merely sprinkles to a good cupcake. Some games are very tough as players gain more experience and compete against stronger players. Last summer, my son earned five points out of five, placing first place in his section. Typically, in a rated chess tournament, a player must earn at least three points out of five in order to earn a trophy,” said Peak.

Chess players are rated based on strength and experience, based on game points earned.

“Strength refers to a national rating that players receive after they have played in their first tournament. Throughout the person’s chess wins and losses, their rating can fluctuate and may earn or lose points. Novice players are rated 750 and under; intermediate players are rated under 1,000; and advanced players are rated over 1,000,” said Peak.

Recently, the Chess Club became involved in a community outreach project to connect youth and seniors through chess at SarahCare Adult Day care.

“The kids went over some rules and occasionally helped the seniors (some who are very experienced players) move pieces. We had other participants just observe the game and we all had a great time,” Peak said.

Peak started playing chess at a young age.

“My parents taught me how to play chess when I was very young. Sometimes at holidays, my parents and four siblings would take out our chess set and play for fun,” said Peak. “I started introducing chess to my oldest son, Matthew, when he was only 3 years old … by introducing a few pieces at a time for about 30 minutes at a time until we had all the pieces on the board and were able to play.”

The Chess Club meets at various locations in Kingwood and has hosted non-rated chess games at the Kingwood Library and Kingwood Taco Shop. Peak is a certified chess teacher and also volunteers as a chess coach at Riverwood Middle School on Wednesday afternoons and teaches private lessons as well as hosts free chess clinics at Kingspoint Clubhouse.

Next up, the club is hosting a Feb. 23 chess tournament at Riverwood. More information can be found at the Kingwood Chess Club page on Facebook or by following them on Twitter.

Susan McFarland
Author: Susan McFarlandEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am a northerner by birth, but got to Texas as quick as I could more than a dozen years ago. I am very curious by nature and love peppering people with questions for Tribune stories. In my spare time I sell real estate, write my travel blog, and hang out with my family and my adorable Boston Terrier, Charlie. I cover local businesses, special interest topics, and area events.

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