12-year-old wins mall tournament

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Cole Buerkle had Adam Hinton's king on the run.

Buerkle, 16, a student at Cape Girardeau Central High School, was slowly nearing a win, with Adam, 11, retreating into a corner.

Then controversy hit the Spring Chess Challenge, when Buerkle removed his hand from his king but did not hit the clock to signal the end of the move -- a move that would cost him the game and could determine who won the tournament, Adam or Alexander Kantchev.

Buerkle, Adam and Alexander were three students out of a field of 12 representing Franklin Elementary School, Cape Middle School, Central High School, Southeast Missouri State University and South Elementary School in Jackson in the Spring Chess Challenge at Westfield Shoppingtown West Park on Saturday. The event was organized by the Cape Girardeau Area Chess Club.

Jonathan Budil, co-founder of the chess club, intervened and ruled in favor of Buerkle, allowing him to take back the move, angering Adam and pleasing Alexander.

Several moves later, Adam still drew a stalemate. He avoided a loss, but still came up short of the championship. That went to 12-year-old Alexander.

"I like winning," Alexander said. "But the best part of the game is that it involves strategy."

Budil said the club hoped to have close to 40 participants from fourth to eighth grade in the tournament, but with school ending on Friday and the warm weather, he made a few exceptions on the age of players allowed to draw enough participants.

Each player was allowed a maximum of 15 minutes a match during the five-round, no-elimination tournament. Players earned a point for winning a match, half a point for a stalemate and no points for a loss.

Budil and Chuck King and Dave Koehler, also members of the Cape Girardeau Area Chess Club, donate their time in helping to lead the Cape Girardeau Middle School Chess Club. The club ended the school year with more than 70 members.

Students from the middle school's club in the tournament were Adam, Alexander, Yale Gerber, Bobby Henson, Cody Overby, Trenton Sanders and Eric Walter. Alex and Eric Craiglow are students at Franklin Elementary and Scott Seabaugh attends South Elementary in Jackson.

Buerkle and Hanoz Kapadia, 24, a student at Southeast Missouri State University were also in the tournament due to the low number of younger players.

While there were not many children in the tournament, those playing have been learning the game of chess for a number of years. Adam began playing when he was 3, and Alexander started to play at 4.

Eric Craiglow, 8, was the youngest player in the tournament and did not win a match, but that didn't bother him.

"I just enjoy playing the game," he said.

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