It was a memorable competitive debut for the Victory Primary School Chess Club at regionals last month.
The young rooks went on to finish second at the tournament held at Clifton Terrace School with one of its players, Danica Balloch, named best female.
The result certainly came as a surprise to the eight-year-old.
“It took a moment to sink in for her because she just kept sitting down and we had to tell her to go up,” coach Reuben Prestige says.
“It came out of the blue, we knew she had been playing well all day but when it came to the prizegiving and all of a sudden Danica got top female and I was just so impressed.”
Reuben, who is a Nelson College student, volunteers one hour a week at Victory, offering his wealth of wisdom to the team.
Danica began playing chess two years ago at the school’s club which is continually growing in popularity.
“I like that it’s a quiet thinking game and it takes strategy.”
She says she was delighted with her performance.
“I’m very proud that I got best girl.”
The club was started by teacher and chess enthusiast Cathryn Hayes.
“It was just about learning the game and out of that we formed the club for year 5 and 6. We have a really keen bunch of players.”
She says the players had worked exceptionally hard in the lead-up to regionals.
“We are extremely proud of them.”
Victory’s attention will now shift to Nationals in Christchurch on October 19, but the team has plenty of funds to raise before then.
“It will be a big ask but some of the kids had not been as far as Atawhai before,” says Cathryn. “So it would be just amazing if we could get the team to nationals.”
To help with the teams travel costs to Christchurch please contact cathrynhayes@victory. school.nz