Growing chess scene in Harrisburg School District


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The game of chess is drawing a lot of attention in the Harrisburg School District. Students will be taking part in a third tournament this weekend at Harrisburg North.

Seventh-grader Aadil Ali and Harrisburg Chess Club organizer David Bergan are facing off in an intense match.

“David taught me a bunch and now I can beat him but he’s still tricky to beat,” Ali said.

Ali spends about an hour a day playing chess these days and has won several tournaments.

“I started in second grade. My dad first taught. He’d always beat me and then I’d start crying,” Ali said.

Lately, he’s been making his opponents weep. Bergan says Ali is a standout player who competes with a solid strategy.

“Concentration, calculation, a lot of attention to detail like you saw in our game here. I missed one thing that he could do to me and because of that it kind of blew up in my face,” Bergan said.

So what’s the kid’s secret?

“Castling is when you get your king with a rook protecting it. I always try to do that in the first five moves and then I push my pieces to attack their king,” Ali said.

The Harrisburg School District’s next tournament takes place right at here at Harrisburg North Middle School tomorrow. It starts at 9 a.m. and Mr. Bergan is expecting around 50 participants.

It’s free and open to Harrisburg students grade K-8.

“I tell them that the most important thing you can learn from chess is how to be a good winner and a good loser,” Bergan said.

Ali hopes to win again this weekend but his biggest victory came when he finally beat his dad.

Aadil Ali: Probably was jumping up and down for a solid minute and a half. It felt nice.

Matt Holsen: Did you have a talk about sportsmanship after that.

Aadil Ali: I did. I ignored it.

All jokes aside, Bergan says chess is an international game and he hopes to grow its participation here in Harrisburg. Ali himself has big plans when it comes to his future with the board.

“Yeah just to get my mind working but I want to try and get better at it. Maybe become a grandmaster someday,” Ali said.

Bergan says each player should expect to play 6-7 chess matches tomorrow at Harrisburg North.

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