With flying colors...: Kids' Success Stories
Five-Year-Old Chess Champion by Jeff Geist
Mark Geist, a six-year-old homeschooler, is the 1991 United States Kindergarten Chess Co-champion. Mark, from Johnstown, Ohio, competed in the two-day National Elementary Championship, April 27–28, at the Rye Hilton Hotel near New York City. He competed against 30 children from all parts of the United States and tied for first place with a seven year old from New York.
Mark is no stranger to chess tournaments. In December of 1990, he won first place in the primary section (grades 1–3) at the North American Scholastics Open in Philadelphia. His 5-0 sweep garnered him a first-place trophy despite being at age five the youngest participant.
Mark began learning chess from his father when he was only 3 1/2 years old. He quickly apprehended the moves and after beating Dad when he was four, began taking lessons from a chess master. His national rating is now 1538, an extraordinary number for a child his age.
Chess is an important part of the Geists' curriculum for their children. They believe the study of chess provides exercise in abstract concepts, memory recall, and independent thinking. In addition, Mark receives weekly lessons from a chess teacher and is expected to complete homework such as drills, the recall of entire games, and playing the computer at chess.
Mr. and Mrs. Geist feel strongly about home educating their two children (Mark has a four-year-old sister). The flexibility and environment which home education affords has enabled Mark to think undistractedly and devote a significant amount of time to studying chess. The tutorial method of education—preferably by a parent—is the world in which a child learns best.