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Hampton/Shaler

Poff Elementary School fourth-grader takes first in Tri-State Chess tournament

| Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Hampton superintendent Michael Loughead stands with Justin Dubee, a fourth grader at Poff Elementary, and Denise Balason, a school board member, in recognition of Justin earning first place in the Tri-State Junior Open Chess Tournament.
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Hampton superintendent Michael Loughead stands with Justin Dubee, a fourth grader at Poff Elementary, and Denise Balason, a school board member, in recognition of Justin earning first place in the Tri-State Junior Open Chess Tournament.

A Hampton fourth-grader claimed first place in his division at the 19th Tri-State Junior Open Chess Tournament last month.

Justin Dubee, who attends Poff Elementary, won the advanced beginner division, beating out other players over four rounds to get the first-place trophy.

The event was held at the Galleria mall in Mt. Lebanon.

Justin, 10, began playing chess when he was 6 and in first grade, said his mom, Lisa Dubee. After seeing the game being played on a television show he iasked his mom about it, but she didn't know how to play. They found instructional chess videos for kids on YouTube to help.

Lisa said she didn't realize that he would do so well, and she's pleased with the results.

“I think it's given him confidence. He really enjoys it,” she said. He recently joined the Pittsburgh Chess Club.

The Hampton School Board presented Dubee with an award at its Feb. 13 meeting.

Hampton's Wyland, Central and Poff elementaries host chess programs for their students, said Erin Prosser, a Poff library media specialist who also leads the chess club there.

She's been teaching chess for more than 20 years, including 11 at Poff where about 50 students participate. First and second grades play together and third, fourth and fifth grades play in another group.

“It's popular — a pretty cool thing,” said Prosser, about the chess programs at Hampton. “The skills also come into play in the classroom and especially when it comes to math.”

She also trains other teachers how to play chess through a program at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

Justic said there were 21 competitors in his division at the Tri-State championship.

“I just like competing,” Justin said.

Lisa said he's played previously in a few competitions, but this is the first time he won.

He's even rated on the United States Chess Federation website.

Justin also plays basketball, baseball, flag football and enjoys math.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Reiew contributing writer.

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