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Over the years, St Peters Chess has undergone a renaissance, attracting players from the fashionable ranks of Cricket and Rugby, and collecting several premiership titles in the Associated Independent Colleges (AIC) Competition along the way.

Mr Gil Bygraves, Year 7 Coordinator at St Peters Indooroopilly, joined the Chess program as Coordinator six years ago. His sons, Joel (2014) and Riley (2016), who learned to play Chess in primary school and went on to become Chess Captain in their senior years, inspired Gil to get involved.

‘As a parent of boys in particular, I like the fact that Chess helps improve their concentration and focus (most games at a junior level are 40 minutes in total) and provides a completely different avenue to achieve success away from the physical sports they also enjoy,’ Gil said.

‘It seemed natural when there was an opportunity to become Coordinator to step up,’ Gil explained. ‘Now I also drive the bus for away games!’

He quickly set about installing Nicholai (Nik) Stawski, a World Chess Federation (FIDE) Master, as Head Coach.

‘When I became Coordinator, my first job was to source a coach who could teach the boys not only the fundamentals but also stretch the better players with more advanced strategies,’ Gil explained.

‘It’s a pleasure watching Nik with the students – in particular when a finished game is rewound to a previous position to show what could have been done.’

Under Nik’s tutelage, St Peters Chess teams have gone on to secure premiership titles in the AIC Competition. This year, the Intermediate A team claimed the title for the second year running and the Junior A team tied for first place in the non-aggregate competition.

Despite recent success, Gil is adamant that the benefits of Chess are greater than the scoreboard tally.

‘Chess provides an opportunity for boys to interact across generations with many parents and grandparents being able to take pleasure in sitting down with the students and playing against them – not only now,’ Gil added, ‘but for many years to come.’

With the support of the Parents & Friends (P&F) Association and Community Liaison Officer, Nicky Hughes, St Peters launched the ‘Rookies’ Chess Club in 2016. Open to St Peters and non-St Peters students and parents alike, Rookies provides an avenue for Chess enthusiasts of all abilities to access Nik’s expert coaching all year round and to create new friendships within the greater community.

With the 2017 competitive season now behind him, Gil looks forward to attracting familiar and fresh faces for next season. He encourages any interested boy of any ability to get involved.

‘During my time, I have seen a wide range of boys come through the Chess program with widely differing academic and sporting abilities all compete on the level playing board,’ Gil said.

For more information about Boys Chess, contact Shaun Nodwell, Director of Sport, in the first instance: s.nodwell@stpeters.qld.edu.au.

The Rookies Chess Club meets term-time on Thursday evenings from 6:00–8:00pm at the St Peters Indooroopilly P&F Centre. For more information, visit www.rookieschess.com.