Maywood Library Club Produces 13-Year-Old Chess Champion


Gordon Hanson, center, with Rickover tournament participants (left to right): Kaitlyn Franco, Jocelyn Gutierrez, Roslyn Gutierrez, Dimitri Stubblefield, Jalen Jones, Yanni Smith and Carter Dawson. | Submitted photo

Thursday, February 16, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 2 p.m.

The Maywood Library Chess Club meets every week at the Maywood Public Library under the direction of former library trustee Gordon Hanson, the club’s founder, and coach. They are old and young, but mostly young — one as young as seven.

The meetings, Hanson noted in a recent interview, are often marked by pizza and some laughs. But don’t let the levity fool you. These kids are serious, Hanson says.

“They’re really passionate about the game of chess,” he said. “They don’t give me an ounce of trouble.”

That discipline is starting to pay dividends. Hanson said that Irving Middle School 7th-grader Jalen Jones, 13, took first place at a recent chess tournament co-sponsored by the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago and held at Hyman Rickover Naval Academy High School in Chicago on Feb. 11.

“Jalen is a very smart kid, and so are the other members,” Hanson said. “I have seven kids, including three girls, and they all did very well at the tournament.”

Hanson said that his kids shined in a competition that featured nearly 400 participants who came from all over the Chicago area — from as far away as Aurora and Schaumburg.

Since its founding last April, Hanson said, the Maywood Chess Club has produced three tournament champions. In addition to Jones, Carter Dawson and Miguel Moreno have also won tournaments in their respective categories.

Hanson said that he hopes that the club can become financially sustainable. He’s received funding from Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley in the past, he said, but for the most part, he’s been supporting the organization with his own funds.

The club meets on Wednesdays, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Maywood Public Library, 121 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. The chess club is designed for all skill levels — from the beginners to the strategically advanced.

“Chess is not only enjoyable but helps develop numerous skills in thinking and strategy formation,” the club’s website notes.

For more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit club, contact Hanson at (773) 600-2187 or You can also visit the club’s web page here. VFP

CORRECTION: This post has been revised to reflect Jones’ correct age. He is 13 years old and in 7th grade, not 12 years old and in the 6th grade. VFP regrets the error.

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