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Chess player spreads love of game

Competes against all comers, including an elephant, at Renaissance Festival

Staff writer

Rick Hodges of Peabody has spent the past seven weekends at the Renaissance Festival in Bonnor Springs promoting a game he loves, chess.

The Kansas Chess Association hosts a booth at the festival as a fundraiser, and volunteers like Hodges play all weekend, every weekend, sometimes playing eight games simultaneously.

“We take all comers,” he said. And he is not kidding.

Several weekends, the chess group plays host to an elephant named Paige. She picks up and moves chess pieces on command.

“Usually she is most fond of eating,” Hodges said. “But she is certainly a draw.”

The proceeds from all seven weeks of action go to the KCA to support its mission of promoting chess. KCA financially supports tournaments, provides funds to send the top three Kansas boys and girls to their national invitational tournaments, and provides chess sets, boards, and bags to schools and chess clubs throughout the state.

“The benefits of chess are well documented,” Hodges said. “Playing chess includes an interrelationship with both music and math — doing one helps with the others. It is a game where the moves are easily learned, but it can take a lifetime to master.”

Last modified Oct. 20, 2011

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