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Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.  We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements. 

Amazing Kids! of the Month for September, 2001: 
Amazing Chess Champs, Swift Creek Elementary School Students, Midlothian, Virginia!
Swift Creek Elementary's Amazing Chess Champs took 1st Place 
in the Virginia State Chess Championships!
Photo by Anne Golden

Quotes of the Month:

"Not only have the [kids] done very well individually, but they also really DO work together as a team to win the tournaments."

Roxanne Sawchak, 
Mother of a Swift Creek Elementary Chess Champ

"Nathan and I must have high-fived each other about a zillion times, but not even half as much as we did Palmer. You'd have thought the poor kid's hand would have fallen off."

Erik Golden,
Swift Creek Elementary Chess Champ

The Swift Creek Team practicing in the airport 
on the way to the Super Nationals in Kansas City 

Greetings!  It's September and that means back to school for most students!  While you may be missing all the fun summer activities, did you know that you can find some fun, extra-curricular (after school) activities at school to get involved in too?!  Take for example this month's Amazing Kids! of the Month winners, the amazing 2001 Virginia State Chess Champions, in the elementary division! 

These sharp elementary school kids spent hours and hours of their before school and after school time practicing with their school's chess club.  And, as you'll read below, their hard work and effort paid off! This past Spring, they took first place in the elementary division in the Virginia State Chess Championship for 2001!

If you love to play challenging games, then be sure to read the following story carefully.  Don't forget to follow the links at the end of the story to chess websites to learn more about the amazing, challenging game of chess!  Check!

Students from the Swift Creek Elementary Chess Club
carefully study the chess board to figure out the best next move

Photo by Anne Golden

Table of Contents 

The Amazing Swift Creek Elementary Chess Champs 

Chess Links for Kids

Contact the Swift Creek Elementary Chess Club


In March of this year, over 450 students from across Virginia participated in the annual Virginia State Chess Championships.  Twenty-four elementary teams competed, including students from Swift Creek Elementary School in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  There were fourteen fourth and fifth graders on the Swift Creek Elementary School chess team.  And guess what?  They won the 2001 Virginia State Chess Championship in the elementary age category! 

The Swift Creek Chess Team with Amazing Coach Hopkins

Members of the Swift Creek Elementary Team included: 

Erin Bradner, Wil Collins, Chris Crossley, Tim Dannenhoffer, Garrett Dodgen, Kevin Donaldson, Sarah Garrison, Christine Golden, Erik Golden, Nathan Kendler, Palmer Mebane, Danny Morton, Ian Tomlin and Zane Underwood.

These amazing chess champs worked so well together as a team, they managed to beat out all the other teams for the first place title! 

Three of their team members, Palmer Mebane, Erik Golden and Nathan Kendler, are now considered three of the highest rated players in the state of Virginia for their age! (The most current rating for each of them, as recorded by the US Chess Federation, is over 1000, which is an excellent rating!) 

Erik and Palmer

All the team members and their families had very high hopes for the team's two top players, Palmer Melbane and Erik Golden, going into the tournament and they were not disappointed. Out of 120 players from around the state, Palmer was undefeated in 6 rounds and was the proud winner of the First Place Individual Trophy for the K-5 competition! Erik won 5 out of 6 rounds and placed 7th overall ; Tim Dannenhoffer and Nathan Kendler both won 4 out of 6 rounds and placed 14th and 20th, respectively! 

   According to one team member's mom, Palmer and Erik have been playing together as a team with another member, Nathan Kendler, since they were in 3rd grade.  The school usually has a large number of students present at each tournament, including their top 4 scoring players of the group. 

The amazing chess champs win yet another trophy at a local tournament!

   At each tournament, trophies are awarded to the top individual players and also to the top teams. Not only have these boys done very well individually, but they also really work together as a team to win the tournaments. 

   At a recent local competition, these top-scoring players had all finished their 3rd round and were undefeated, but were facing some stiff competition from another team. Going into the 4th round (typically a difficult one for the top players as they are guaranteed to be playing another strong player who is also undefeated up to this point in the day), Erik discovered that he was paired with a particularly good player and that he (Erik) would be "playing black" (Playing chess with the color black is considered a bit of a disadvantage.)

Some Swift Creek Champs receiving their medals at a recent local area tournament

  Here is what Erik has to say about the event:

  "I knew that I would not likely win playing black, but that I could wear my opponent (Timothy) down so that Palmer could have a better chance of beating him when he (Palmer) was playing white in the fifth round.

  "Palmer finished his fourth round before me. He had won. I thought I might lose, but I was determined to make my opponent work so hard that he was tired when he played Palmer. Finally, after about an hour, I resigned. While writing down my score, I saw that Nathan had lost, too.

  "Knowing that Palmer would probably have to play my previous opponent, Nathan and I practiced with him for a long time, then we went outside for some last minute exercise. We were called in for the final round when we were in the middle of a game of tag. After checking the pairings, we exchanged "good lucks," especially to Palmer, and went into the tournament room.

 "Nathan and I finished our games quickly.  I had won, but Nathan had lost. We watched as one by one people filed out of the tournament room, but Palmer was not among them. Once most of the people were out, we had a clear view of the game through the glass. We exchanged nervous glances as Palmer extended his hand. We thought he was offering a draw. Timothy looked around the board, a look of disbelief on his face. Then he shook Palmer's hand. Palmer turned and gave us the thumbs-up sign. He had won!

  "Nathan and I must have high-fived each other about a zillion times, but not even half as much as we did Palmer. You'd have thought the poor kid's hand would have fallen off."

Erik concludes:

  "There is a chess move called a "sacrifice" when you lose a piece in order to win a checkmate. Well, that is what I think I did. I wore Timothy down in order for Palmer to beat him and I'm proud of that. Nathan, Palmer and I have been playing chess as a team since third grade. Not to brag, but we are really difficult to beat."

Wow!  Way to go, Swift Creek!  Anyone for a game of chess? :)

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The Swift Creek Elementary School Chess Club:

Kids Zone - Interesting information on chess for kids, from the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association:

Links to chess websites for kids:

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For more information, please contact the Swift Creek Elementary Chess Club:


401 Charter Colony Dr.
Midlothian, VA  23113

Email: (Anne Golden, Club Chair):

School Phone: (804) 739-6305

School Website:

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A Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you kids:

It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered.  (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!) 

If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it!  Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are!  We are always looking for new stories.  And don't be shy!  We'd love to hear from you!

Here's an idea you might want to try:


If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them?  Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talents! 

Amazing Kids! is looking for teens to be Amazing Teen Volunteers and Ambassadors. If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping to spread the word, please email us at:


 It's cool to be an Amazing Kid!


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