The Grand Avenue State School chess club Team 1 won first place at the Brisbane West Interschool Chess Tournament held at Fernvale State School on June 1, 2022.
Grand Avenue State School chess club coordinator Danielle Szczepina said the students played exceptionally well in the face of tough competition.
“Individually we didn’t place, but as a team they worked really well together and their collective score ended up being the best compared to the other teams,” she said.
“It was a bit of a nail-biter – they usually put the results up part way through the tournament so you can see how everyone’s tracking, but they didn’t do that this time, so we were sweating on it waiting right up until the announcement at the end.
“It was a bit of a suprise to get that result because the other teams had some extremely strong players; very well-rated players and super competitive.”
Eight students from Grand Avenue State School competed across 2 teams in Division A, and another 10 competed in three teams across Division B.
Mrs Szczepina said all students across all teams represented the school wonderfully.
‘These kids work really hard at their chess – they do their own study, and they’re very humble kids,” she said.
“They make us very proud every time they step out and represent our school.”
Mrs Szczepina said it was very exciting to see so many great players coming up across the district.
“We made it to the State Finals last year for the second time and the kids did really well – our team placed 9th out of 24 teams.”
The Grand Avenue chess club will compete at one more Brisbane West Interschool Chess Tournament in August, and their results this term will determine whether they progress to State Finals again this year.
“The kids are already working and studying hard to get themselves into position for that tournament,” she said.
Mrs Szczepina, who founded the Grand Avenue State School chess club after starting at the school 6 years ago, said running the chess club was one of her favourite parts of her job.
“It really started to gain momentum with a particular group of kids who are in Team 1, who started playing and really took to it.
“They got super enthusiastic and really competitive with each other, and they have helped me grow the club.”
The chess club attracts between 12-50 kids from prep to grade 6 each week, and about 40 students had competed in chess tournaments. They also run a school tournament every year to promote the club.
Mrs Szczepina said chess was beneficial for encouraging the connection between hard work and success.
“It really makes your brain think in a different way … I had one student say to me once “when I play footy, I use my chess brain,” she said.
Chess was also great for emotional regulation, critical thinking, practising social skills, boosting intelligence, and forming friendships.
“One of the nicest aspects about it is how the older kids teach the younger kids and pass on the knowledge and enthusiasm,” she said.
“Some of the kids that might otherwise be wandering around the playground without anyone will come into the chess club and feel really welcome.”