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Ardsley Kids Learn Chess - And Life - Skills

Cooper Gottfried, 9, left, plays his teacher, Furqan Tanwir, in a game of chess at Ardsley’s Youth and Community Center.
Cooper Gottfried, 9, left, plays his teacher, Furqan Tanwir, in a game of chess at Ardsley’s Youth and Community Center. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella

ARDSLEY, N.Y – At first glance, the boys and girls gathered in Ardsley’s Youth and Community Center on Tuesday evening were playing chess.

Their teacher, Furqan Tanwir, suggested there’s much more going on than meets the eye.

“Chess, at its simplest form, is the ability to make good decisions,” he said. “I think the same holds true in life.”

Tanwir, a resident of Yonkers, has been teaching chess for 12 years and playing it for 20. When he was 16, he was ranked 71st in the nation. Now 28 and a certified chess master, he spends his Tuesdays in Ardsley’s Community Center from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. teaching the game he loves to kids between the ages of 7 and 13.

“It’s a pretty good gig,” he said.

Split into two different classes - beginner and intermediate - Tanwir spends each hour segment going over assigned homework and demonstrating new skills on a cloth-and-Velcro chessboard. Each class ends with free play, in which students can try out their newly acquired skills versus one another.

While much of the appeal for the kids is the chance to learn and play a game, they’re also developing valuable skills in the process.

Diane Gottfried, whose 9-year-old grandson Cooper is a beginner, endorses chess for the components that are consistently found in other things, such as education.

“What I love about the game is the problem solving and reasoning that goes into it,” she said. “It promotes thinking.”

Cooper, however, has a different set of priorities, for the time being.

“Free play is definitely my favorite part of the class,” he said. “It’s such a fun game to play.”

Tanwir’s classes run throughout the year in four different sessions consisting of 10 classes each. Each 10-session set is $120 ($110 for Ardsley residents); enrollment can be done through the Ardsley Youth and Community Center.

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