Spotlights
Stemmers Run Middle School student makes his move in the world of chess
2/24/11

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Kiran Kokilepersaud knows a thing or two about chess.

The 12-year-old seventh grader at Stemmers Run Middle School started the game at the age of six by copying his father’s moves and quickly fell in love with the intricacies of the game. He tries to get in at least a few games every evening.

“You think more when you’re playing chess. It’s better than just watching TV,” he said. “It has the most brain activity. It helps develop your mind and thoughts.”

The game has also kindled Kiran’s competitive nature. Losses send him straight to books from experts, but increasingly that isn’t an issue. He’s become a force in regional chess tournaments, having placed in every competition he’s entered. Kiran recently took the first place individual prize at the Mid-Atlantic Scholastic Chess Championships, a competition for middle and high school students. He also earned second place in the team competition. Most impressively, while other competitors were able to compile team scores using results of their four best players, Kiran was a team of one.

He doesn’t plan on being a team of one for long. As one of the leaders of his school’s chess club, he’s helping his friends prepare for chess tournaments. Kiran admits that part of the reason he shares his chess skills is the hope of better competition, but he also enjoys witnessing players develop a love of the game.

“Now they can see they can do it on their own,” he said.

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His chess tutoring might be the start of a budding career as an educator. He hopes to become a math professor one day. He likes the creative possibilities that math offers. 

This love of math has also served him well in another game called 24 Challenge® that requires players to quickly manipulate four numbers so that the end result is the number 24. Last year, as a sixth grader, Kiran bested all other middle school competitors in the Baltimore County Public Schools 24 Challenge in the double digit category. This year he’ll be competing in the integers category, which brings even stiffer competition, but Kiran isn’t worried. He finds integers even easier to work with.

Also, he feels he has a great support system on his side at Stemmers Run.

“All the teachers care. They care about whether I’m doing well,” he said. “They put effort into teaching us what’s important. They’re willing to help you learn even if it’s outside of the curriculum.”

Story and photos by Jeff Flynn, Good News Ambassador and social studies teacher, Stemmers Run Middle School.
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