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Metro kids learn life skills and make friends through chess program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The game of chess is making a difference in the lives of kids across the metro.

On May 12, nearly 200 of them got together to work on their skills and make new friends.

"At the beginning of the game they shake hands, at the end of the game they shake hands. Good sportsmanship. Kindness to others," said Kenneth Lingelbach who runs the LINC chess initiative.

From kindergarten to high school, kids in the metro's LINC chess initiative love to play.

"Great. I feel like I`m learning more and more from every person I play," said third grader Adrian Lopez.

Lopez wants to be a grand master when he grows up -- one of the highest titles you can get in chess.

"It's great because he's not into physical sports or anything, but he`s so smart, and it's something he can hone in his strategic skills. It`s helped a lot with being able to make friends, and deal with other people, and handle losing, and how you interact with other people when they do better than you," said Carolyn Lopez, Adrian's mom.

While 5-year-old Angelina Cotter is learning piece by piece. She can sit and name each piece and tell you what it does and the rules that go with it.

She says it's a lot to remember, but she's able to keep up, because she keeps playing chess.

"She is doing a lot more intuitive thinking, and thinking her processes out - versus before she would jump straight into things. It`s helping her to take a step back," said her mom Allyson Cotter.

Whether Angelina knows it or not, Lingelbach says she's learning skills that will stay with her.

"Understanding that moves being made, good or bad, are just like in life. Making good decisions or bad decisions are going to sway the outcome of the game, or sway the outcome of your life. So, it`s not just about learning chess. It`s about a life skill too," Lingelbach said.

With each game the kids play, even if they lose, Lingelbach says they are winning.

"It's wonderful to see these kids when they truly understand the game, and are able to comprehend and play the game to the outcome that we are looking for, and that`s check mate," Lingelbach said.

The LINC program works with seven school districts and over forty schools in the Kansas City area. They offer before and after school chess lessons for kids who want to play.