Chess champion challenges Superior mayor to a match

Jun. 8—SUPERIOR — Connor Bailey had the mayor on the run.

But a couple wrong moves later, Mayor Jim Paine turned it around, cornering Bailey's king.

Bailey, a fifth grader and member of the Bryant Elementary School Chess Team, challenged Paine to a chess match Wednesday, June 7 in the school's library.

"I thought it would be a really good opportunity," Bailey said. He issued his challenge after winning the school's chess tournament. He won the five-match tournament with four wins and a stalemate, he said.

"Do you want me to pull my punches or play for real?" Paine asked at the start of the match.

"Play for real," Bailey said.

After winning the match, Paine shook Bailey's hand and told him he'd played a good game.

"Connor used the only opening that really makes me nervous," Paine said after the match. "I really don't know how to respond to it very well, and the chess players in the room may have seen it. I made a couple of mistakes. He had me pretty wrapped up. He only slipped up once or twice, but I wasn't about to let the opportunity pass."

Deb Jones, library media specialist teacher, said the chess club got started this year because students were asking for it. She had to brush up on the game, she said, and how to run a chess club with the help of online sources and Andy Grube of the Twin Ports Chess Club.

"I admit, I went on

and paid for a couple months subscription so I could coach these kids," Jones said. She said 25 students would play the game during recess and lunch to improve their skills.

In preparing for the match, Bailey said he played several puzzles set up by Jones before class on Wednesday morning.

"I admit," Paine said. "I played a little bit today to get warmed up."

In chess, Paine check mate can be difficult to find, so his strategy is to put a lot of pressure on the king. That was his winning strategy Wednesday.

"Sometimes that leads me to make mistakes, and I made a few along the way that Connor pretty ruthlessly exploited," Paine said.

Bailey said he learned a little bit about the game from reading a book, but got better at it from chess club, he said.

Paine started playing when he was in about fifth grade, but he said it wasn't until he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, read a book about it, and had many friends to play with that he got a "little bit better" at it.

Bailey liked learning the rules of the game and he said it's interesting how the different pieces move across the board.

"I like what Connor said earlier about he played a few puzzles," Paine said. "Really, all a game of chess is, is one puzzle after another. In puzzles, there is usually a correct answer, but in a game there often isn't. It's a chance to be creative and look for ways to solve really tough problems. But I also like that it's fun to win, and it's fun to keep fighting when you're losing."