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Ridgewood Chess Club experiences several firsts

| April 30, 2021

Jadon Smoulder (right) and his brother Noah, playing in the championship chess game at Ridgewood Middle School. (Submitted)

For 32 years a champion’s name has been added to the Ridgewood Chess Club’s plaque for winning the spring open chess tournament.  This year, one thing is certain….. the name Smoulder will be placed upon the champion’s plaque for 2021. For the first time, two brothers played each other in the spring open’s championship match. The only drama that was left to be played out was whose first name would go on the plaque.

The tournament has two divisions, fourth and fifth grade and sixth and seventh grade. The fourth and fifth grade champion Noah Smoulder, and the sixth and seventh grade champion Jadon Smoulder, played each other in a best of three games match to earn the right to have their name placed on the coveted plaque. Noah gave his older brother Jadon a good challenge but it wasn’t quite good enough.  Jadon won the best of the three game format and will get his name added to the champion’s plaque as the 2021 winner.

Another “first” for the chess club came in 2019. Autumn Joyce became the first female champion to add her name to the plaque. She opened the door, and as of this year, a large number of girls have since joined the chess club.

The year 2016 became the first year that the name of a son of a previous champion was added to the plaque. Kenny Baker had his name added to the plaque not once but twice. Kenny won the spring open in 1990 and in 1991. Twenty-five years later in 2016, his son Ryan Baker, had his name put on the plaque.

On a more somber note, there was yet one more first for the chess club. Last year, 2020 became the only year that the tournament was canceled. The tournament had just started when COVID-19 struck and closed area schools. The name “Wuhan Virus” was placed upon the plaque in 2020 as a “historical remembrance” to the situation that came to be that year in the chess club’s long history at Ridgewood.

Category: Education

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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