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Greg Royar - Courtesy photo

Lynn Sheffield Simmons: Hilltop Elementary to hold chess tournament

The Place is Argyle

The 2014 Hilltop Elementary Chess Tournament will be held April 28 and 29 in the school cafeteria. All of the students participating will receive a certificate. The top three from each grade-level grouping will receive medals and each group’s champion will receive a trophy.

In 2006, when Hilltop counselor Michael Ball became the sponsor of the elementary school chess club that was started by Joan Wittmis and Mallory Bownds, he began with mismatched chess pieces and boards.

As the club grew, participants were asked to donate $10, and after purchasing matching pieces and boards, three years later the club had saved enough money to purchase analog chess clocks. Chess clocks are used to make sure each player has a fixed amount of time to complete a game.

In earlier years, the time issue was a big problem for it was not unusual for a player to take hours to make a single move and games sometimes took days or even weeks to complete.

With the addition of clocks, it allowed the Hilltop Chess Club to have a more conventional-type chess tournament. The club bought tournament software and also software to help Ball keep track of each player’s club rating. Later, it purchased a school license for quality chess training software, and after a number of generous donations, the club purchased digital clocks.

A few years ago, first-graders were added to the club and each year about 65 students from second through fourth grades join.

Hilltop’s chess season begins in January and ends at the end of April with the two-day tournament. The chess club meets after school every Monday from 2:45 to 4 p.m. The tournament is played in the standard “Swiss System” chess tournament format where all the players play in every round and each player has 30 minutes to make all of the moves.

“Our number of players requires that we play the tournament as a five-round tournament played over the course of two days. Players earn one point in each round they win, one-half point for a draw and zero points for a loss. The computer software pairs players with like number of points each round, and the winners are determined by who ends up with the most points from each grade level after five rounds,” Ball said.


Clean-up day set for Saturday

The town of Argyle will sponsor a free drop-off for residents (proof of residency required) for broken, unused or unwanted items from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Argyle Town Hall, 308 Denton St.

Articles that can be dropped off include household hazardous waste — aerosols, flammables, toxic liquids, batteries, paints, etc. Also accepted will be the disposal of electronic/universal waste — televisions, computers, telephones, microwave ovens, VCRs, CD players, etc., and household items — water heaters, washers/dryers, refrigerators, freezers and small scrap metal. Car tires and light truck tires can be disposed of and there will be on-site secured document shredding.


Argyle Senior Center

The Argyle Senior Center will have a Pot Luck Easter Luncheon at noon Friday in the Argyle Town Hall Community Room, 308 Denton St.

Those attending are asked to wear something with an Easter theme and to bring a side dish. The Argyle Police Department will furnish the meat.

The Argyle Senior Center meets every Wednesday and Friday, with exercise beginning at 10 a.m., followed by card games at 11 a.m.

For more information, call Stella McDaniel at 940-464-7438, or visit


Days gone by

In 1996, the lighted cross in the Argyle United Methodist Church sanctuary, now the Argyle Town Council chambers, was the backdrop for the Easter Sunrise pageant The Easter Story, written and produced by myself, directed by Craig Beaudine and music directed by Bill Smith.

All of the Argyle churches participated and each church minister gave a narration from the Bible. The Argyle church choirs came together to form a community chorus and each church was represented by a soloist. Janet Newsome of the First Baptist Church Argyle ended the performance with “Arise.”

LYNN SHEFFIELD SIMMONS is founder and past president of the North Texas Book Festival Inc. She is the author of 10 children’s books and two history books on Argyle. Her website is she can be reached at