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Mastering chess helps one Airman in life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jason C. Epley
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The next Bobby Fischer could very well be wearing Air Force blue.

"You think you're pretty good when you beat your buddies and your family, but it's a whole other world when you start competing," said Staff Sgt. Robert W. Keough, 607th Air Intelligence Squadron. Sergeant Keough is one of the top six competitors representing the Air Force in this year's Armed Forces Chess Competition being held at, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

Sergeant Keough earned that honor this past May when he represented Pacific Air Forces at the Air Force Chess Championships and took second.

The top six placing participants from the Armed Forces Competition will go on to the NATO tournament, which will be held this year in Antalya, Turkey.

"I started playing chess around the age of ten," said Sergeant Keough who learned to play from classmates in grade school. "I've always been a very competitive person, but I was never the athlete that my brothers were."

"It never got serious until high school when I joined the chess team," said Sergeant Keough. His high school chess team won four different divisions throughout Arizona. His commitment to chess increased during his assignment to England, where chess is viewed as a very intellectual game. During his assignment to Osan, he turned down going on trips to other countries with his friends to participate in various tournaments.

"While my friends were taking these amazing trips and going to different places, I was playing in chess tournaments. I would play once a week in the village team and once every two weeks in the county team," said Sergeant Keough.

In 1995, Sergeant Keough participated in his first Armed Forces tournament in Washington D.C. There, he placed in the top ten. Since then, he has participated in many Air Force and Armed Forces competitions. In 2005, he took first place and won the Armed Forces tournament. The following year Sergeant Keough didn't attend the Armed Forces tournament even though he automatically qualified by winning the previous year.

Sergeant Keough's dedication to the game led him to volunteer and teach the game to elementary and high school students. He recommends people interested in improving their chess skills to go to their local community centers and to practice against other people.