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Steve Buchholz, Public Information Manager, 394- 6082
November 6, 2000
In nine years, Nels Truelson never beat his older brother Roy in chess. Moving rooks and knights and slamming queens to the board, they played after school and on weekends. They challenged other kids in their Minneapolis neighborhood. They played in tournaments against adults and inter- scholastic competitions. Roy played a meticulous, mechanical game, wearing down his opponents. Nels learned how to play his game by losing. Eventually, losing taught him to win.
Nels finally beat his older brother in 1969 when Roy was the Minnesota State High School chess champion and ranked in the top 25 in the nation under the age of 16.
“ Losing all the time,” he says, “ I was constantly looking for ideas, creative ways to win.” But he didn’t find those ideas in books on chess openings or strategy. He learned by playing. In the end, he says, that made him the master that he is today.
Truelson, the highest- ranked chess player in South Dakota and reigning state champion, will share some of his strategies for chess with students from Rapid City and the Black Hills during a clinic and exhibition Friday, Nov. 10, at the Children’s Science Center. The event is a warm- up to the Veteran’s Day Scholastic Chess Tournament, which is expected to draw nearly 100 students in grades K- 12 to compete on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology on Saturday, Nov. 11.
In addition to teaching strategies for winning at chess, Truelson will play students in a simultaneous exhibition where he moves in a circle making rapid- fire moves on two dozen different boards. “ Sometimes I do this blind- folded,” he says, “ but with a blind- fold I can only play 10 or so games at one time, and the whole thing goes more slowly.”
A two- time Minnesota Junior Champion in the early 1970s, Truelson went to college and played chess for Princeton University in New Jersey. After graduating with a degree in economics and psychology, he returned to Minnesota and studied engineering and law. He became the dominant chess player in Minnesota in the mid- 1980s. But then he got married and began to focus on raising a family. “ I always thought I would come back to it one day,” he says, “ when my kids were old enough to begin playing themselves.”
A year and a half ago, Truelson and his wife Sandy moved with their three kids – Nick, Zack and Ben – to Sioux Falls seeking a better quality of life. Home- schoolers, they became involved with the Sioux Falls Home School Association’s dynamic chess club, and the two oldest boys began playing in tournaments. Both boys are following in their father’s footsteps. Last year, 11- year- old Nick won the Elementary School division of the South Dakota State Scholastic Championship. Younger brother Zack, a 10- year old, won the Primary division of the Sioux Falls City Championship.
With his oldest boys playing competitive chess, Truelson, has begun to play competitively again. But his time is limited. A labor relations expert with the U. S. Postal Service, Truelson and his wife adopted three children from Romania last year – Vaslie, Timothy and Nathaniel. “ We now have the world’s ugliest van,” he says, “ to accommodate car seats and baggage for everyone.”
Truelson says that chess helps young people learn a variety of skills that will help them in later life. “ The game of kings,” he says, “ offers more to the soul of a child than any other. It teaches patience, humility, courage, perseverance, self- reliance, and accountability.”
Truelson’s clinic and exhibition will be held at the Children’s Science Center from 5: 30 p. m. to 8 p. m. Friday, Nov. 10 from 5: 30 to 8: 00 p. m. Admission is free, but participation in the simultaneous play is limited to the first 24 students who register. Students can register by calling Eric Abrahamson at ( 605) 391- 1048.
The Children's Science Center is a science and technology museum with " hands on- minds on" exhibits for children of all ages. The Children’s Science Center serves as an inquiry- based informal science education and community outreach program of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. The Center focuses on learning by doing and making learning fun. The Center is located off Interstate 90, Exit 57, on the way to Mt. Rushmore on historic West Blvd. The Center is open Tuesday through Saturday. The museum also includes gift shop, picnic grounds and gardens.
The Veteran’s Day Scholastic Chess Tournament will be held at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City from 9 a. m. to 5 p. m. Saturday, Nov. 11. It is open to players – from novice to expert – in grades K- 12. The tournament will give young people a chance to test their strategic thinking. Trophies will be awarded to the top five finishers in four grade divisions: primary ( K- 3), elementary ( K- 6), middle school ( K- 9), and high school ( K- 12); and to the top team in each division. On- site registration is available from 7: 30 a. m. to 8: 30 a. m. The fee is $ 12. The tournament is sponsored by the Southwest Middle School Chess Club, the Children’s Science Center and the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, and is sanctioned by the U. S. Chess Federation. For information, contact Eric Abrahamson at 605/ 391- 1048.
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