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Santana Alumnus Brings After-School Chess to East County Kids

A game that's fun, mentally stimulating, builds self esteem and could one day lead to a Grand Master in the family.

If you're looking for a mentally stimulating after-school activity for your kid to get into, a Santana High School alumnus recently started up the Pacific Hills Chess Academy in East County San Diego.

In July 2012 Ron Rezendes, known as Coach Ron by his students, founded the Pacific Hills Chess Academy and is focusing his efforts to bring his after school enrichment program to East County students.

He said the game of chess itself naturally increases the critical thinking skills of his students.

"I have seen kids raise their self esteem and confidence most of all, regardless of how good they eventually became at chess," said Rezendes. "They have new found critical thinking skills that empower them to take on tasks or issues they would have previously avoided."

The program he teaches, dubbed “The Evans Method” by the United States Chess Federation, includes instruction, formal and casual play. Students receive prizes at the end of each class to reward positive participation and trophies or medals at the end of each session, a method that has produced national champions.

Rezendes said his students also become more social as a result of learning chess.

"I really appreciate the competition and the camaraderie with my fellow players," he said. "Over the board they are your ultimate enemy, but when the game ends we're all still friends and we look forward to our next game."

As a freshman Rezendes re-created the Santana High School Chess Club and served as president. 

Rezendes trained under the tutelage of International Master Larry Evans for over 17 years, teaching chess in dozens of schools throughout San Diego County. His experience includes over 10,000 hours of classroom instruction.

In 1982 he was introduced to and joined the San Diego Chess Club, one of the largest chess clubs in the country, and has acted as president for 16 years. He has also acted as president of the Southern California Chess Federation overseeing all of the chess clubs in SoCal. He's even organized chess tournaments such as the US Chess Championship held in San Diego in 2005 and 2006.

Coach Ron lays out the life lessons he's learned while playing chess:

1. Learn the basics.
2. Think before you do.
3. Think possibilities and outcomes.
4. Keep your aim in mind.
5. Have a plan but stay flexible.
6. Make your time count.
7. Protect your material.
8. Accumulate small gains.
9. Choose your friends carefully.

For more info see the Pacific Hills Chess Academy website

Also check out The Santee Chess Club

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