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LINCOLN -- Jacob Pilkington's favorite part of chess is "checkmate."

The 12-year-old Lincoln Middle School student heads to Cherry Hill, N.J., this summer to represent Arkansas in the third annual World Junior Chess Tournament for the Disabled.

One player is selected to represent each state that participates, and the selection is based on the student's performance in chess matches and tournaments. Along with students from the U.S., kids from around the world will compete. Last year, a student from Germany won the tournament.

Lincoln's chess coach, Ryan Billingsly, nominated Jacob for the tournament.

"He's an incredibly talented kid who has worked hard to improve his chess this year," Billingsly said. "We couldn't be more proud to have him represent our class and the school at the world tournament. He's an amazing kid."

The middle school has a program where students can choose from a number of extra classes. Jacob decided to try chess as his choice class and quickly caught on to the game.

This year he has participated at fall and winter tournaments and qualified to compete in the final NWA Chess Tournament of Champions at the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative in Farmington. Jacob also qualified to compete with other Lincoln students in the national chess tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

Jacob is no stranger to competitions. He's been a member of the school's Special Olympics teams in multiple sports. Personally, his favorite sports are baseball, football and bowling. He doesn't like to read but enjoys math and science.

Jacob said he doesn't like to lose in chess.

"I like doing checkmate," he said, adding the most important part of playing chess is looking for threats. He plays chess in class and then the club stays until 5 p.m. on Mondays for more games and practices.

As part of the nomination process for the World Junior Chess Tournament in New Jersey, a student has to prove his disabilities.

Jacob's mom, Amber Pilkington, said Jacob has a rare genetic heart condition, brain disorder and a coronary artery disease. He has also been diagnosed with Duane Syndrome, a rare congenital condition that is characterized by the inability of the eye to move outward. He has the condition in both eyes and is going blind, his mom said.

He has been studied at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and at a facility in Seattle, Wash.

Pilkington said the stress of chess tournaments stresses Jacob but she believes the game is good for him.

"I'd rather Jacob be normal instead of sheltering him," Pilkington said. "This is good for Jacob."

Ryan Acord, the middle school's special education teacher, also said he's glad Billingsley had made the chess club open for all students.

"As a special education teach, it's incredible that Jacob and other students with disabilities are included in Mr. B's program," Acord said. "Jacob's able to be with his non-disabled peers."

Jacob also volunteers to deliver Meals on Wheels for Acord's class, and Acord said only a select number of his students are allowed to help with this.

"He's the most responsible one," Acord said.

Along with his mother, Jacob's older sister and father support his chess activities. His dad is his chess partner at home, Pilkington said.

General News on 06/05/2019

Print Headline: Ready For Check Mate

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