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High noon – Excellence in all we do

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- They face each other, boots on the ground, not trying to get off the fastest shot, but the truest one...a shot aimed at the heart, designed to disable, or better yet, finish off the opponent. The face-off takes place at high noon.

When you are the best of the best, they come from all around to test themselves against you; to make a name for themselves, and to then be known as the BEST. Buckley is home to one of the very best. Master Sgt. Nathaniel Ola, 2nd Space Warning Squadron, is a chess champion. He is ranked among the world's chess champions by the World Chess Federation and by the United States Chess Federation. He has represented the United States at NATO Chess Championships from 2003 to 2011 at Denmark, Turkey, Germany and Lithuania, placing as high as 7th Place out of 53 players. At the Department of Defense level, Ola was co-champion in 2007...as in tied for the best player within the DoD.

Chaplain (Capt.) Randy Croft was briefing first-term Airmen at the Chapel and shared that he had an interest in chess. He was approached by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Bean, Readiness and Emergency Management, 460th Civil Engineer Squadron, who conveyed that he also liked to play chess. Croft offered to support a lunchtime chess club at the chapel, already having in his possession tournament chess sets and clocks. The inaugural meeting of the Buckley Chess Club took place the Dec. 8, 2011, and brought Ola out of the woodwork. The club had been offered to chess players of all levels, even beginners. Bean sat across the table from Ola, and took on the fast-draw artist. It was soon apparent that there was a champion of the first caliber present. Before the hour was up, all present were looking on in fascination at how to achieve "Checkmate in two."

Buckley is the current home to the Aldridge Trophy. We boast the "Best Space Operations Wing" in Air Force Space Command, in addition to the "Best Security Forces Tactics Team" and the "Best Space Communications Team." The Buckley Airman is a cut above in intelligence, work ethic, improved readiness and sharpened skills, all necessary to defend our nation in space operations. It should be no surprise that one of the most accomplished "Shootists" currently playing the game of chess is one of our own space operators.

Many studies have been published that postulate the educational benefits of teaching children the game of chess. Significant advancements in spatial and numerical progression, along with verbal aptitudes have been proven among chess-playing students, in a study conducted by Dr. Albert Frank. A 1974-76 Belgian study by Johan Christiaen showed "a chess-playing experimental group of fifth graders experienced a statistically significant gain in cognitive development over a control group, using Piaget's tests for cognitive development." In adults chess can increase mental stamina and endurance, and amplify the ability to analyze and reason out problems, according to the Benefits of Chess in Education website. (http://www.psmcd.net/otherfiles/BenefitsOfChessInEdScreen2.pdf)

These are definable reasons to learn and play chess - what is indefinable is the fun, and yes, the excitement of the game - especially when playing against one of the keenest minds on the base. Contenders are invited to the Chapel on Thursdays - high noon...Put your fears aside and prepare to face off against some deadeye marksmen. We promise you'll walk away alive!

Integrity First - Service Before Self - Excellence in All We Do

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