Family spends quality time playing chess

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 29, 2010

NATCHEZ — A family chess dynasty is emerging on Union Street.

And there are chessboards the family has won in nearly every room of the house to prove it.

Maya Vollmer, 15, and siblings Quinn, 13, Henry, 11, and Tess, 9, all compete in chess tournaments, both local and state, along with their parents Jeffery and Rachel Vollmer.

All of the Vollmer children have been playing chess since they were young, but Maya was exceptional, Rachel said.

“We have pictures of Maya as an infant in front of a chess board,” Rachel said. “By (age 1), she knew how the pieces moved and by (age 3) she could play.”

Part of the reason Maya and Quinn like playing so much is because it gives them quality time with their father, who leaves home early and gets in late because he works in Baton Rouge.

Jeffery said he plays every night, and if one of his children is interested, he will set up chess puzzles for them to figure out.

“They can usually find the result,” he said. “We have a good time together, and it is not spent mindlessly, like watching TV.”

But quality time wasn’t the only reason, as all of the children love to compete. The private matches usually pit Henry against Tess and Maya against Quinn, but sometimes the elder siblings will play their dad.

“(My dad) usually wins,” Quinn said. “But over Mardi Gras, I beat my dad twice in one day.”

In the competitive spirit, Maya quickly smiled and confessed that she could trump Quinn’s accomplishment.

“My best chess moment was when I beat my dad in a tournament,” she said.

In the Mississippi State Chess Championships, Tess placed third in the kindergarten through third grade section. Quinn finished fifth in his section and Maya and Henry both competed in the top 20. Each section had approximately 100 players.