DECATUR — Underneath a shade tree in Central Park, a group of elementary school boys Saturday played chess against anyone who wanted to challenge them. They played all afternoon, and their coach said they only lost three games.
“They are pretty ruthless, we’ve taught them not to take any prisoners,” said South Shores Superstars Chess Team Coach and school social worker Joshua Fazekas.
It was a good opportunity to practice and play people of all skill levels, Fazekas said. They faced 60-year-old men and members of other chess clubs including Eisenhower and Rochester high schools during Decatur Celebration.
“We compete with whoever comes up to this table,” Fazekas said. “We respect our elders, but we like beating the heck of them at chess.”
Politicians also came up and talked to the players, which is confidence-boosting and impactful, he said.
“The attention that they are getting is good that they feel it and people can come up to them and say, ‘Hey, what you are doing is pretty cool’,” Fazekas said.
It also shows the team that they have community support, he said.
“We are really excited to be invited and happy for all the community has done,” Fazekas said. “I don’t think we could continue on like this without the community.”
Jaymarlon Eubanks said he’s only played chess for a little while and enjoys it. His coach said he is unbelievably good at the game. His interest was peaked during lunch time, when the chess team would practice by doing tactical puzzles, Fazekas said.
Then, he decided he wanted to join the team. His parents, London and April Eubanks, said the chess team is a great thing for their son. They are happy he is a part of it, London said. Their younger son is learning chess as well.
“The confidence is good,” London said. “The strategy is really good for life with the problem solving.”
The chess team is even recognized as a nationally relevant chess team following a trip to nationals last year.
“If we can beat 60-year-old men or beat chess members from Eisenhower High School, it is time to make history,” Fazekas said. "We love what we do."