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Jonesboro High School junior able to play chess blindfolded
by Bill Baldowski
bbaldowski@neighbornewspapers.com
August 02, 2012 05:14 PM | 1307 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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From left, Mark McPherson, Jonesboro High School math teacher and a chess team faculty advisor, goes over a few pointers with Wyatt Ross who, with blindfold drapped over his shoulder, prepares to play another sightless game of chess with an opponent who is not blindfolded.
Wyatt Ross, a junior at Jonesboro High School and a member of its competitive chess team, likes to think he has learned at least a little something from many of the chess masters of the pass, such as Bobby Fischer.

However Fischer, despite holding the title of eleventh world chess champion, never did what Ross has done numerous times, which has impressed his faculty advisor, Jonesboro math teacher Mark McPherson, and volunteer chess coach Charlton Moncrief among others.

Ross, 17, has the ability to play chess blindfolded with only the aid of a partner who, sitting next to him, advises him of his opponent’s move and then takes direction from Ross as to where he wants to move.

Not only has Ross played blindfolded numerous times but has already won a match against an opponent who was not blindfolded.

“Anyone who has ever played chess realizes how much of a mental game it is,” Ross said. “Good chess players must think not only about the moves he will make well after his current move but how his opponent will try and counter those moves, so you always have to think ahead.”

Ross is always blindfolded when he enters the chess room to play a match like this and needs his assistant to help him to his chair.

He never sees the chess board or his opponent’s face until after the match.

“I only need to be told if I am playing the white or black pieces,” Ross said.

To date, he has played chess blindfolded more than 10 times and enjoys doing so because it helps him sharpen his mental image of the board and the chess pieces being moved.

However, Ross is at his best when he can actually see the board.

The results of what he calls his “sighted” matches reflect his chess skills.

For instance, playing for the Jonesboro High School chess team in the national chess competition last April, Ross played seven games against some of the best high school chess players nationwide.

He won two matches and fought another opponent to a draw.

When school resumes, Ross will return to his usual schedule of playing from 12 to 15 games of chess per week in McPherson’s classroom.

He doesn’t play much at home because his skill level is so advanced, no one can really challenge him.

His goals this year are to continue sharpening his skills and begin preparing for the 2013 nationals.

“As with most competitive activities, if you want to be better, face good competition and Mr. McPherson and Coach Moncrief always provide that,” Ross said.

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