It wasn’t a normal playtime when Ahmoad Ware came home from kindergarten.

Instead, he sat down with his father and paid close attention to playing chess. Nearly two decades latter, Ware is thankful for those hour-long meetings with his dad, James, that ended up paying for his college education.

Ware, who is graduating from West Virginia University’s Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism Sunday, May 18, with a bachelor’s degree emphasis in advertising, has won several nationally prominent chess tournaments since he began competing in grammar school.

“When I was 5 years old I went to my first tournament,”he said.”I hate to lose, so I would cry when I lost.

“It was really hard for my dad to teach me in the beginning. I knew I had to learn how to play, and then I started to like it. It was well worth the hour or two he sat me down.”

At 7 years old, Ware began traveling to various competitions across the United States.

The competitors, sometimes double or triple his age, were always impressed with Ware’s talent.

In 1993 he won the World Open Chess Tournament and the United States Open in Philadelphia.

The World Open hosted competitors from across the world and of different ages competing for the title.

“I was having so much fun.”Ware said.”In all of the tournaments there are cash prizes and I began winning thousands of dollars. To be 13 years old and winning all that money was crazy.”

After winning both tournaments, Ware became a celebrity in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. Newspapers plastered his picture on their front pages and producers invited him to the Regis and Kathy Lee Show.

Ware used all of the money he earned through competitions to pay for his college tuition.

“Playing chess has helped with reading and mathematical skills,”he said.”I have a ton of chess books that I read all the time, and it has made me more patient.”

Ware is the son of James Ware and Vanessa Walker. He was a member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc., Gamma Beta Phi, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, WVU Advertising Club and Americorps.

A National Panhellenic Scholar of the year award recipient, Ahmoad was named to the WVU President’s List and Dean’s List, Who’s Who in American Colleges and All-American Scholars.

“Since I have been in college I have played in the World Open and the Chicago Open. I continue to play, but in college I have won just some small tournaments.”