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Chess champ perks up interest
By Jonathan Cooper

October 22, 2005

Kyrene Corridor residents with chess skills that are slightly less than tournament quality—or even utterly nonexistent—now can improve their game with the help of a champion chess mogul.

A good coffee latté will keep ‘em awake if the session reaches marathon status.

Pieta Garrett, one of the servers at Mochajumbie’s Island Coffee Café, a new Tempe establishment, began hosting free, Sunday-evening lessons at the restaurant a week ago.

Ric Adamcik, the restaurant’s operations manager, says Garrett’s classes are the perfect accompaniment to his store’s stress-relieving atmosphere.

“It’s really a good thing for people of all ages to come down and relax, play a game of chess instead of sitting at home watching television,” said Adamcik.

Adamcik hired Garrett, his son’s former private chess instructor, to be a restaurant employee, and then got the idea to share Garrett’s expertise by offering the free chess lessons.

Garrett won the Arizona state chess championship last year, qualifying him to compete against 49 other state champions. He took first place in that national meet, as well as in the U.S. Cadets competition, a national chess invitational for the top players under age 16.

Garrett was able to attain his level of success, he says, because of repeated practice and significant family support while he was young and learning. He began to compete in tournaments, continued to improve, “and the rest is history," he said.

Four players showed up for instruction on the first evening it was offered, all with considerable prior experience, but Garrett says anyone is welcome, regardless of skill level.

“If people did come here and wanted to learn from scratch I’d be more than willing to teach them,” he said.

Even the experienced players, which Garrett called “pretty elite for their categories,” still managed to pick up a few tips from their teacher.

Fifteen-year-old Bang Adamcik said the instruction was “beneficial,” and suggested that any beginning players could “definitely benefit” from Garrett’s expertise.

“They wouldn’t have to pay for anything,” he said. “They could just have some fun games and most of these (more experienced) people would be able to help them out.”

Garrett and the players said they enjoy chess because of the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills it develops, which they say are highly beneficial in other aspects of life.

“I like it a lot because it’s developed a part of my brain to be logical,” said the 19-year-old Garrett. “It’s helped me a lot in school. Not only does it help me to be a better thinker, but it’s also helped me to remember better.

“Instead of developing other parts of my body with sports, chess develops my brain.”

Garrett was able to attain his level of success because of repeated practice and significant family support while he was young and learning. He began to compete in tournaments, continued to improve--“and the rest is history,” he said.

Mochajumbie’s is a modern, tropical-themed café that sells specialty coffees, teas and small food items. It opened about four months ago on the northeast corner of Warner and Kyrene roads. The free lessons are offered every Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m.

“I think it’s really going to grow,” said Adamcik, the manager. “Pieta’s a wonderful teacher. I think we’re going build a lot of people coming here just to enjoy a friendly game of chess and relax in a different environment.

“Most people play chess in school and in tournaments and things, so this gives them a different atmosphere to just sit down and relax and have a drink with it.”

Information: (480) 961-6011.


Photo by David Stone































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