The School Zone: News

Front row, left to right: Zacharia El-Badawi, 7th grade; Yutai Long, 7th grade; Maddie Cardin, 6th grade
Back row, left to right: Rasha Shammaa, parent; Spring Forest MS Coach Gale Jenkins; Steve Cardin, parent


A Spring Forest Middle School student who joined the chess club at Nottingham Elementary in third grade is now a nationally ranked player for her gender and age group. She also helped her middle school team score well during a recent regional tournament.

Sixth-grader Maddie Cardin placed first and won a trophy in section, or division, play at the recently held T. H. Rogers regional chess tournament, which drew up to 500 young people. She joined three other Spring Forest Middle chess players there to finish with a respectable team score of 11.5 points.

The T.H. Rogers chess tournament tends to attract the best scholastic chess players in southeast Texas.

Maddie entered the Dec. 8 regional tournament with a U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) rating of 1168. She played in the highest division with four of her five opponents rated above her.

With a first-place finish, she is now rated 1366 and will play at the Champions division in future matches – one of which will be held at Spring Forest Middle in several months.

Adults are allowed to play with students in the Champions division. In scholastic chess tournaments, students play five chess matches with each game lasting up to 1 hour.

Joining her at the T.H. Rogers event were classmates Zach El Badawi, Yutai Long and Ethan Alvarado. Yutai Long took home an individual trophy for his scholastic talent.  

Spring Forest Middle School's chess team


During the past two years, the Spring Forest Middle chess team has built a strong team of 16 USCF rated players; the campus club has about 35 regular participants. The team returned from The Awty International School tournament earlier this year with a second-place team trophy and six individual awards.

During the same time period, four Spring Branch ISD schools – Spring Forest Middle, Nottingham and Rummel Creek elementaries, and Cornerstone Academy – have taken part in citywide USCF tournaments.

In March 2019, Spring Forest Middle will join the ranks of area schools hosting a USCF scholastic chess tournament. It will mark the first USCF-sanctioned tournament hosted by a district campus, organizers said.

The March 30 all-day Saturday tournament will begin at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. with an awards ceremony. Register online.

Maddie Cardin’s Fun Chess Facts

  • The Nottingham Elementary Chess Club started up in 2015. Maddie joined with two other third-graders that year.
  • Her end-of-year prize and very first chess book: Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.
  • Maddie enjoys playing against people more than computer chess. She refers to the computer chess games as “fake people.”
  • Her favorite opening moves depend on whether she is playing white or black. If she plays white, she tries to open with the Italian or Spanish (Ruy Lopez) moves. If she begins with black, she will often play a Sicilian Defense against e4, which is known popularly as the King's Pawn Opening move.
  • Her favorite chess players are Paul Morphy, a chess prodigy during the mid-1800s, known for his tactical play, and José Raúl Capablanca, a brilliant Cuban player.
  • One of her other favorite books is José Raúl Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals.
  • Maddie believes that Spring Forest Middle has a good student club with solid players. She would like to see more students play chess in SBISD.