Six Year Old Cooper Takes State Chess Tournament
There are few words six year old William Cooper, Jr. likes more than the two he uttered seven times at the State of Texas Elementary Chess Championship: check mate. "I was surprised," said Cooper, a resident of Texas. "It was very scary for several of my games." Scary, for the first grader who is studying pre-algebra math, meant he made several moves during his games that he immediately realized were mistakes. But he was able to overcome them to take first place at the tournament, a repeat of his finish at the 2007 tournament where he tied for first place.
"My dad was praying for me every time I was playing one of the games which could last one to two hours each over a two day tournament weekend. If I was in a difficult situation, I would stop to think knowing because of the prayer God would give me wisdom", stated Cooper. William has learned many life lessons from playing chess over the past year. "Chess has taught me about prayer, practice, patience and making friends. Making friends from different parts of the state and country has been a lot of fun."
The victory qualified Cooper for the national chess tournament later this year. It also earned him a trophy that now stands in his room, a mere three inches shorter than he is. "I couldn't carry it, so my dad had to," Cooper said. William Cooper, Sr. can take credit for introducing the game to his son when the boy was at an age where some children are still fumbling with building blocks. "When he was four I showed him how to play chess, but I pulled my hair out because I didn't think he was getting it," the elder Cooper said. "But when he was five, his mom bought him chess for the computer, and he was really interested in it."
The tournament featured about 1,500 competitors, including 166 in William's K-1 category. William has played in more than 20 tournaments this school year, including state and national championships. He spends around ten hours per week learning the game. Between computerized opponents, practice with his chess tutors or competing he keeps learning the game and life lessons.