Chess is literally king at Hunter Elementary School, so it made perfect sense for three students visiting relatives in Nigeria to take several chess boards with them.
Chi Chi, Chike and Chuma Chukwurah wanted to teach chess to the students at the Beth-Roots Model School in Onitsha, Nigeria, which was founded by their grandmother. The result Tuesday was a friendly online chess tournament between students from Hunter and Beth-Roots, who were separated by more than 5,700 miles and a six-hour time difference.
“Chess is a universal thing,” said Mark Indermaur, a parent at Hunter and the chess club director. “It doesn’t matter what age you are, what language you speak or where you are.”
Indermaur said the request for the chess boards and the online chess match made sense considering how popular the game is at Hunter. Each Wednesday afternoon, 130 students, nearly 20 percent of the students at the Raleigh magnet school, participate in the chess club.
Chess trophies line a bookshelf in the school’s media center. Chess boards are in all the classrooms, and students are encouraged to teach others how to play.
Chess is sort of my passion and my hobby. If you had to ask me what comes first, it’s school. But then it would be chess.
Riddhik Basu, 10, a fifth-grader at Hunter Elementary School
The opportunity to play chess motivated 13 Hunter students to show up an hour before classes started Tuesday. One student who was sick logged in from home to play against the Nigerian students.
Riddhik Basu, 10, a fifth-grader, compared his love for chess to the way some kids like to play video games.
“Chess is sort of my passion and my hobby,” Riddhik said. “If you had to ask me what comes first, it’s school. But then it would be chess.”
In between chess matches, the Hunter students conversed via Skype with both the Nigerian students and their three classmates. It helped minimize the distance that Chi Chi, 10, felt not being physically with her fellow magnet students.
“I still got to engage and have conversations with them even though I’m not in the same place,” Chi Chi said.