By Joel Hall
Local pastor, George P. Lanier, inventor of Chexagon -- an innovative checkerboard game which combines traditional game play with math skills -- has moved the game from its concept stage into a product available in 25 area Wal-Mart stores and 13 area School Box stores in less than three years.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, from 9 a.m., to 3 p.m., Lanier will attempt to bring the game to the masses, by hosting the first-ever Chexagon Tournament at Clayton State University's Harry S. Down Center for Continuing Education.
The tournament will be open to any public, private or home-schooled student in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. The event will accept up to 24 students from each grade level.
The competitors will face off in successive matches. The victor in each grade level will have $100 awarded to his or her respective school to further math education.
In October, Lanier secured a contract with Wal-Mart to test his product in its 25 metro Atlanta stores. Chexagon, which uses a series of numbered squares on a hexagon shaped checkerboard to play a series of math-based games, is currently on the shelves at Wal-Mart stores in Riverdale, Morrow, McDonough, Stockbridge, Hampton, and Union City, and available by request at other area stores.
Lanier said, while the game is doing well, the tournament provides a better way to move the product. "This is a new game, and unless people see it played, they are not going to get it," said Lanier. "That's why the tournament is so crucial. It is those kinds of hands-on things that are going to get it out there, not the fact that the box looks good or that it's in Wal-Mart."
Clayton State University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) worked with Lanier to take Chexagon from a patented idea to a product with an overseas manufacturer and local distributors. Donna Kelsick, a SBDC business consultant who has worked closely with Lanier, said she is excited about the tournament.
"It's really been an interesting journey to watch George develop the game," said Kelsick. "You could tell that when it finally got out there, it was something that was going to catch on, so I'm excited to see the tournament that is going to be happening over here."
Lanier said the tournament offers a way to get local children back into the spirit of competitive strategy and human interaction -- things he believes many of today's youth are missing.
"I believe that this is a kind of revival that we need that can take kids away from all of the overwhelming electronic stuff that is isolating," said Lanier.
The registration fee for the tournament is $10. For more information, call (678) 231-9409, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.