Friday, December 3, 2021

Chess for K-12 is Back on at the Family Church

Photo by Maria Lamb
| According to Wade Keller, chess teaches students patience and thinking.


Wade Keller’s passion for chess led him to form the Marco Island Chess Club and he had a very active pre-COVID K-12 group of students. The activities of the club paused for several months but once Wade received his second vaccine, he felt it was time to get back to the game of chess with the students.

Photos by Sue Keller
| Week number one of the chess club: Back row (l-r) Haddon Dixon, Wade Keller, Hudson Dixon. Middle Row – (l-r): Calvin Grifoni, Silas Hoskins, Bodie Theodorou, Job Hoskins, Tosca Grifoni. Front row sitting (l-r): Luke Hoskins, Elias Nowlin.

According to Wade, chess is very popular with K-12 students for two reasons: Charter schools and private schools are very good at using games to help students learn and chess also teaches students patience and thinking. While players are sitting and waiting for their turn to make a move, they are thinking and strategizing. 

Elsa Grifoni of Marco Island, along with other mothers of home-schooled students, is hoping that the club would give local students an opportunity to socialize and also challenge their thinking process at the same time. Elsa added that chess is an excellent tool for students to develop problem solving skills and improve attention span while having fun learning to improve their chess skills.

The Family Church of Marco Island located on 1450 Winterberry Drive offered to host the Chess Club’s weekly classes on Wednesdays from 10 AM to Noon for all K-12 students on Marco. Thanks to Pastor Terry Hoskins and Casey Nowlin, the Chess Club has had two very successful sessions. Pastor Hoskins and his wife Jamie have three boys – Luke, Silas, and Job – and all are learning to play chess. 

During these sessions, the students will learn the skills to play chess and prepare for future tournaments. The Chess Club has had two sessions so far with over 11 students participating for each class.


Photos by Sue Keller
| Dad and daughter duo playing chess (Michelle Hurtley and Wade Keller). She was inspired to learn chess by the Netflix series, “Queen’s Gambit.”


Photos by Sue Keller
| Wade Keller with a custom designed mailbox – a gift from a granddaughter.

Wade Keller has a plan, and it starts with Robust Chess Playing! So, all the kids have fun, learn the rules, and get something positive from the morning experience.

Step One: Robust chess playing. According to Wade, almost all of the kids are brand new to chess playing. For the next several sessions, they just play and get to enjoy the game. He does mix them up and get them to play with other partners. 

Step Two: Writing your moves. According to Wade, this will teach the students to be able to review their notes and analyze where they could have done better – another way to improve their chess playing skills.

Step Three: Using the clock. According to Wade, once they can record their moves, they can learn to use the chess clock. Adding a chess clock bring a new level of excitement and enjoyment to the game of chess. Without the clock, your opponent just takes forever to move. So, a timer is needed to keep the game moving. 

Step Four: Introduce the experience of simultaneous chess exhibition: This is where one player – usually of a higher caliber – plays multiple games at a time with a number of players moving from table to table to play a single move. One rule is not to make your move until the “master” is standing in front of your board. Players will learn to sit patiently, analyze their boards, and think of their next move.

Step Five: Playing at a tournament. According to Wade, “I’d like to get to the point where we can have one tournament each month on Saturdays.”

All students K-12 of all abilities are warmly invited to join the Wednesday’s chess class at the Family Church from 10 AM to Noon. If you have any question, please email Wade Keller at



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *