HAMPDEN (NEWS CENTER Maine) - Eighty students--3rd through 5th grade--flock to the gym at the Weatherbee Elementary School in Hampden for the first chess club meeting of the year. The club meets an hour before school on Fridays.

That number is double the participation the club had last year when the program first launched.

Tricia Richardson, a gifted and talented teacher for RSU 22, and the person who started the club says, "I knew there was a need [for chess], but I had no idea how much of a need there was until I saw how many children would come and play."

Richardson's father and the school custodian, David Bishop, also help coach the chess team.

The coaches say that through this club, the students will not only learn chess skills but also valuable life skills, such as math, problems solving, critical thinking and impulse control.

The chess program is looking for funding. With the high volume of kids joining the chess club this year, Weatherbee Elementary has had to borrow boards from other schools in the area. The coaches say they’re hoping for more funding to buy enough boards, buy timers and to cover travel to chess tournaments.