Philly Girls make moves at chess tournament

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Time for new queens to be crowned at the annual Philly Girls Play Chess All-Girls Tourament held at Drexel University. (WPVI)

The pawns were poised. The rooks were ready.

It was time for new queens to be crowned at the annual Philly Girls Play Chess All-Girls Tournament held at Drexel University.

Chess is serious business for some of these girls, ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Philly Girls Play Chess is part of After School Activities Partnerships or ASAP, a citywide effort to provide fun, free, educational after school programs through grants from private donors and foundations.

2,500 girls and boys play chess weekly.

"After school activities are important because it provides an outlet for the students to do something after school from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. where they can get into a lot of risky behaviors," ASAP Chess Programs Director Martin Collette said.

The goal is to introduce more girls to the traditionally male-dominated game.

7th grader Shamiyah Boozer is the only girl on her school chess team and she too hopes to get the word out.

"I actually want to start my own event for girls because I feel like we don't have that many opportunities and I want girls to have same opportunities as boys," Boozer said.

Chess helps with critical thinking and concentration. Players learn to watch their competitors. Observe, react. The lessons extend beyond the board.

"Chess is like life. You make a move, you can't take it back," 5th grader Luzsil Laboy said.

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