Lincolnville Central School returned victorious from the State Scholastic Team Chess Championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor March 2, bringing home two first-place trophies and one runner-up award.

Chess Coach Bruce Haffner promised to shave his head if Lincolnville Central School and Camden-Rockport Elementary School teams had winners in three divisions, and he made good on his pledge. Delighted LCS team members took turns with the clippers Monday, shaving something akin to a chessboard into his blue hair.

Lincolnville Central took first place in the K-1 Championship section on the shoulders of Oren Hurley (2.5), Clara Harbaugh (2.0), Eva Hurley (2.0), and Braydin Moody (2.0).

"Our kids played so well they missed taking third place overall versus second and third graders by half of a win (wins are one point, draws are one-half of a point and a loss is zero) but handily beat the fifth and six place teams," Haffner said. LCS finished with 6.5 points.

In the K-3 Championship section, Lincolnville placed second, totaling 9.5 points, with top performances by Ray Beach (3.5) and Maggie Harbaugh, Jonathan O'Brien, Grant Morrison, Andrew O'Brien, Anneka Egeland and Lily Fishman, all of whom scored 3.0 points.

Lincolnville Central School and Brewer Middle School finished as co-champions with 15.5 points in the K-6 Championship section. Lincolnville received the first place trophy on tiebreaks. Top point scorers from Lincolnville were Thomas Pickford (4.0), Zachary Egeland (3.5), Bryson Hise (3.0), Rose Fishman (2.5), Liana Talty (2.5), and Zev Whitcomb (2.5).

Competing in the event were 393 players and 63 teams from across Maine.

"This (K-6) was our closest contest," Haffner said. Last year the same group (less Noah, Zachary and Zev, who were in third grade) won with 14 points.

"We’d come from behind last year and were hoping we could do it again!" he said. "We finished strong — Rose had a draw and Bryson and Thomas won!"

Because Camden-Rockport Elementary School won the K-3 division and LCS took the other two, Haffner said, he had "to deliver" and let the kids shave away.

On a side note, the chess program has been so successful with LCS students that it is used in first-, second- and third-grade math classes as a fun alternative for kids to use math.

K-2 math teacher Jane Cummons said there is a big correlation between math and chess skills. "Everybody is so excited about what Bruce does with the kids. We are very fortunate to have him here."

Mr. Bruce (what his students call him) thinks chess is so valuable for young children that he has volunteered nine hours a week teaching chess at LCS since October 2016. This includes chess once a week during school in grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, two before school classes and one after-school class.

The real benefits are those that accrue to the children and families that have embraced chess, Haffner said. He is convinced that his top chess students excel in math, have increased self-confidence and are better time managers than kids who are less involved.

Not wanting chess to disappear if something happens to him, Haffner is forming a 4C club to continue and expand his work.

"The C’s stand for calculation, concentration, creativity and computer-aided learning," Haffner said. "Longitudinal studies confirm that early competence in skills that chess directly impacts has a dramatic impact on achievement once our children become adults."

To contact Haffner, email BruceHaffner@gmail.com or call 847-987-3091 if you’d like to help him in this endeavor.