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Playing chess offers family much more than trophies

In spots throughout Michael and Marcie McIntosh's Salt Lake City home are some 180 chess trophies claimed by one or the other of their six children. A few of the ubiquitous awards have even found their way into the garage.

Tyler and Adam McIntosh, shown here at their home March 18, 2002, are some of the best young chess players in the country and recently won two first places at a national open competition versus adults. Photo by Tom Smart
Tyler and Adam McIntosh, shown here at their home March 18, 2002, are some of the best young chess players in the country and recently won two first places at a national open competition versus adults. Photo by Tom Smart Photo: DESERET NEWS

The McIntoshes may have become to Utah chess what the Flying Wallendas were to tightrope walking. Brother and Sister McIntosh coach chess at their local elementary school. Sons Adam, 15, and Tyler, 12, claimed two championships at the recent National Open Chess Festival in Las Vegas. Even 7-year-old sister Eliza is mastering the nuances of the middle game and King's Gambit.

Daughter Tuesdee, 25, (now married with a child and another on the way), Abigail, 17, and Emily, 5, round out the McIntosh family.

"Chess has ended up being a hobby outlet — another way to be with our family," said Sister McIntosh. She and her family attend the Monument Park 2nd Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park North Stake.

The McIntosh parents both played chess when they were young, but they credit the children's grandfather, Joseph Beck, for essentially introducing the game to the McIntosh siblings. Brother and Sister McIntosh suspected their youngsters were serious about chess "when they were beating their Grandpa."

Sure, the success has been fun — but the family says chess is much more than trophies or tournaments.

"Chess helps me do better in school by helping me learn to concentrate," Eliza said.

Adam — who plays on his high school's junior varsity soccer and hockey teams — added chess has helped him boost his grades and allows him to spend time with his family. He hopes to become a chess master. Tyler enjoys the competition, along with soccer and computer games.

Like many games, chess can be a metaphor for life and Church principles, Sister McIntosh said. Careless decisions can lead to sad consequences. And it's imperative to look ahead, study the options and think, think, think.

"Your first impulse isn't always the best [choice]," she said.

While chess is played between two opponents, the game's true pleasure is found in personal improvement and development, Sister McIntosh said.

Chess has also given the family the opportunity to give something back. Brother and Sister McIntosh coach elementary school students and the older McIntosh boys have taught chess to children.

Traveling around to compete in nearby events has also given the family some special social opportunities, added Sister McIntosh.

"We've met a lot of people we wouldn't have met who have become good friends," she said.

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