Sergey Kudrin, left, moves a chess piece during a match as Mya Wideman, 8, looks on Friday night at the Detroit Institute of Arts. (Mark Hicks / The Detroit News)
Detroit— Mya Wideman intensely stared at her chess board for several minutes Friday night, pondering how she might outsmart a grandmaster.
The 8-year-old Chrysler Elementary School third-grader repositioned her black rook after Sergey Kudrin, who achieved his grandmaster title in 1984, stopped at the more than 40 other chess boards in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Playing in the so-called simul, or simultaneous match, with a chess champion sharpened Mya’s skills. “It helps me concentrate, and when I concentrate, it helps me think,” she said.
That was the aim of the nearly four-hour-long competition for youths active with the Detroit City Chess Club. Students are from across the city.
Though some members had previously won national, regional and state competitions, playing in such a setting — with little talking and long pauses while museum patrons watched — improves skills and “teaches them to focus,” Coach Kevin Fite said.
That helped young competitors such as Lauren Bradford, 11, a sixth-grader from Detroit. “It helps your knowledge in everything,” she said. “It makes you better at chess playing an out-of-state champion.”
Fellow player Torrance Henry said he loved how the match “builds up your competitive skills.”
Chess, he said, “builds up your mind and it’s based on math... It just helps you develop a lot of mental skills.”
Associated Press contributed.