Chess brings people together



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


3/16/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. -- The Maxwell-Gunter Chess Championship took place Saturday at the Gunter Community Center. Participants competed in either the adult division or the children's division with some children participating in both, according to Jerry Piwetz, the event's host.

The event is normally a qualifying event for active-duty members to compete at the major command level later in the year. This year, however, the tournament focused on nonrated play, allowing all youth and adults to compete.

"It's good to encourage growth in all types of activities," Piwetz said. "It's a great mental activity for children, and it's a great family activity. You are actually interacting with another person as opposed to just playing a game in front of a computer. It's also a great game to teach strategy."

Seasoned veterans and first-time tournament goers of all ages showed up to compete for one of the coveted trophies.

Brody Meyer, a fifth-grader at Autauga Academy, competed for the first time at Maxwell-Gunter.

"I've been nervous and excited about playing in this tournament," Meyer said. "I love chess because it's a challenge. I like winning, but if I can't win I like having a good, fair match."

Even though he's had a bit more experience than some of the younger competitors, Carlos Matos, an Air Force retiree and former president of the Montgomery Chess Club, was equally excited about the tournament. Chess has been a big part of Matos' life since he was young. He started playing chess in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when he was 16.

"It was great because I didn't have to spend any money to do it, and it kept me off of the streets and out of fights," he said. "After I learned how to play, I started a chess club in San Juan and eventually became a tournament director. I love this game because it develops mental skills. I've been playing ever since I learned how."

Once the matches ended, two men emerged victorious, with Mark Liatti taking the adult division and Teja Ginjupalli winning the youth division.