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Chess tables dedicated to Peter Croce

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Kings and queens of the park

New chess tables open in Church Square Park

By Tom Jennemann
Reporter staff writer
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In the past decade, chess has seen a major resurgence in popularity for America's youth. This trend is readily evident in Hoboken, where the five-year-old Hoboken Chess Club has evolved into one of the state's premier chess programs.

In an effort to support this movement, the city dedicated three concrete chess tables Wednesday and held a Chess Festival at Church Square Park. The new tables have been dedicated to Hoboken's own coach and teaching guru, Peter Croce, who founded the Hoboken Chess Club.

"Chess is gymnastics for the mind," said Croce Wednesday at the dedication. He added that in the past five years, he has taught over 1,000 children how to play chess, and his students have competed in state chess championships for the past four.

He added that the game improves critical thinking skills and concentration. He also noted that interest in the game is growing dramatically. In the last year, the United States Chess Federation records show that its membership has increased to 90,000 members, of which half are school aged children.

Even though the Chess Club has a permanent location at 334 Park Ave., Croce said that having a table in the park is another opportunity to introduce children to chess. He said that it is his plan to put chess pieces out every afternoon after school and allow students to play for free. "They now know that if they want to play chess, then this is the place to come," said Croce.

Young champions

While the many of the Croce's students have had success at the state championships, three in particular have shown their mettle.

James Arsenault, William Alston, and Liudmil Liudmilov have a combined record of 45 wins, 2 draws, and only eight loses in the past four years. All three have placed in the top four of their grade each of the past four years.

Alston has won the top spot once and placed second once. Beck has won the top spot in his grade three times, and Arsenault has played at the final board for the championship four consecutive years.

Paid for by...

Two of the tables, which cost about $950 each, were paid for by the city. The third was paid for by City Council candidate Terry LaBruno, according to the city's director of human services, Carmelo Garcia.

Mayor David Roberts said the Hoboken Chess Club has been a major success in Hoboken. "The skills that chess teaches are ones that greatly benefit children, and we as a city are happy to add these tables to Church Square Park," Roberts said.

The Hoboken Chess Club is located at 334 Park Ave. The club offers classes, open play, tournaments and individual lessons, as well as a Chess Summer Camp. For more information call (201) 232-6741.

ŠThe Hudson Reporter 2005

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