Ben Thompson Earns $12,000 Chess Scholarship.
Benjamin Thompson is headed off to Lindenwood University this fall with a $12,000 scholarship from the school. Ben has been playing in WSCF tournaments for at least the last 12 years.
Discovery World. Check. Golda Meir Tournament. Check. Northeastern Wisconsin Tournament. Check. Or should we say “Checkmate!” Those are just a few of the chess tournaments Benjamin Thompson has either placed first or second at over the many years he has devoted to learning and mastering the game since he began playing in 2007! Benjamin first picked up a chess piece while visiting the Chicago Children’s Museum with his mother. Mother and son boarded an Amtrak train to visit Chicago for a day and the rest, as they say, is history. His mother vividly remembers walking into a room at the museum that was designed as a life-size chessboard. It was there, under the guidance of two high schoolers that young Benjamin began to become inquisitive about chess. These two complete strangers spent hours with Ben introducing him to the pieces and the rules of the game.
When Benjamin entered second grade at Golda Meir School, he was assigned to Mark Holland’s classroom. Unbeknownst to the Thompson family at the time, Mr. Holland was an avid chess player and served as the coach of the Golda Meir chess team. Students could stay in at recess and play chess for fun; or they could commit to staying after school two nights a week to join the Golda chess team. Benjamin chose to do both as he started to learn chess and commit to becoming a student of the game. At the time, as they still do today, Golda Meir competed in weekend tournaments in and around the greater Milwaukee area sponsored by the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation, under the direction of Bob Patterson-Sumwalt. Soon Benjamin found himself immersed in all day weekend tournaments and loving the concentration, competition and camaraderie chess provided. Craig and Lynn Krueger, Golda Meir parents, were instrumental in Benjamin’s formative chess years as they spent countless hours organizing the team and giving up their weekends to be with the team. Benjamin would often times find himself on board one, however that didn’t just happen overnight. From the time he first sat down to play chess to preparing for his final competitions in the Milwaukee City and Wisconsin State championships this spring, Benjamin has always found time to share his love for chess with others as evidenced by his:
- Creation of a summer chess camp for kids in his neighborhood
- Teaching chess on Saturday mornings at his church
- Starting an afterschool chess program for another MPS elementary school
- Traveling to other states to compete in tournaments as well as being a regular participant through various chess websites
- Competing internationally for fun in Europe and Mexico
- Serving as a TD for various tournaments
- Participating in the Milwaukee Public Library chess lessons and tournament (where he won one of his first chess boards!) several years ago
- Attending open houses to recruit and support the Rufus King chess team
Now a senior and captain of the Rufus King International High School chess team, Benjamin’s passion for the sport has reached an all-time high as he prepares for the next level. With a WSCF rating of 1425 and a USCF rating of 1301, Benjamin will head off to college in August of 2019 to attend Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri where he will join their chess team after having obtained a chess scholarship totaling more than $12,000. The Lindenwood Lions will not only be adding an excellent chess player to their team, but someone who has used chess to become a well-rounded individual. In addition to chess, Benjamin serves as a Link Crew leader at Rufus King, runs his own lawn care/snow removal business and has participated on the track, soccer and comedy improvisation teams at Rufus King High School.