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Lower School Chess Club Provides Early Morning Brain Boost

It’s 7:00 a.m. on a Friday and the Lower School at The Episcopal School of Dallas is buzzing with brainy energy. While most students might be sound asleep at this time preparing for their last school day of the week, members of ESD’s Lower School chess club are already into their first lesson of the day.

Now in its 17th year, the Chess Club originally started with an ESD parent who wanted to offer chess lessons to students on Friday mornings. The interest among Lower School students grew and grew until a full-fledged Chess Club was born. Chess Master Babakuli Annakov, who also teaches chess at Hockaday and St. Mark’s, now gives the weekly lessons. Every Friday morning, Mr. Annakov divides students by experience and provides each group with 10-15 minutes of instruction, which is followed by challenging chess matches. Club participation is offered to students in Primer through fourth grade, with the current enrollment sitting at 39 students.

“Can you believe we have so many students arriving before 7:00 in the morning just to learn chess, interact with each other, and have fun?” says Zora Skelton, Lower School Math Coach and Chess Club facilitator. “Watching the fourth graders play each other and even watching them play a first grader for fun is priceless.”

Mr. Annakov may be the Chess Master, but the club's longevity and success can also be contributed to Mrs. Skelton's dedication over the years. "She is single-handedly the most amazing leader of this group," adds Lower School's Nurse Carla, another Chess Club facilitator. "I love her enthusiasm for the game and her boundless energy in teaching our students."

This long-standing club is the perfect before-school activity to get those brain synapses firing away for a productive day at school. For more information about this ESD Lower School club and many more, please visit

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020