To hear Dawoud Rivas, a ninth-grade English teacher Paetow High, tell it, Katy ISD is known for its athletic programs. But as Paetow’s chess sponsor, he and his team—and their peers around the district—are making moves of their own
To hear Dawoud Rivas, a ninth-grade English teacher Paetow High, tell it, Katy ISD is known for its athletic programs. But as Paetow’s chess sponsor, he and his team—and their peers around the district—are making moves of their own.
Rivas said that while Morton Ranch and Tompkins high schools do not have their own chess teams, the other seven Katy ISD high schools do. Those teams had a chance to show their stuff at the first-ever Katy ISD chess tournament, held Feb. 25 at Paetow High, 23111 Stockdick School Road.
“This would be a battle of the wits, as they say,” Rivas said.
Rivas, a 2009 graduate of Katy High, said he has had an interest in chess since childhood. By his own admission, he’s “always been OK” at the game, which said he learned from his older brother.
When he joined the Paetow faculty, he learned he wasn’t the only one with an interest in chess. But having a school chess team? That was another matter.
“We started out not having a sponsor for chess,” Rivas said. “One of my kids asked me if I wanted to be a sponsor. I was reluctant at first, but he was persistent.”
Rivas went for it. He asked other sponsors around the school and district how to go about becoming a team sponsor.
Chess players make a commitment just as their athletic counterparts do, Rivas said.
“I can’t speak for other clubs, but our players practice after school, from 2:35-4 p.m.,” Rivas said. “They come in and they play.”
From his discussions with other sponsors, Rivas said, someone suggested holding a district chess tournament. Each team brought in its four best players. Include the sponsors, parents and volunteers, and suddenly the tournament became an event that, ideally, can become an annual thing. Perhaps it could expand beyond that, to include teams from other districts.
“As I was looking into it, it looked as if many ISDs have tournaments,” Rivas said.
Yet, contrary to what many believe, chess is not an elite game. Anybody can play chess, Rivas said.
“All they need is to be steered in the right direction,” Rivas said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of background or knowledge you have. It’s a great game.”