There are many very keen – and very good – chess players at the St Kilda Road Campus Chess Club, which meets in the library every Wednesday at lunchtime, attracting up to 90 players at a time. Students also regularly play each other on their laptops at recess.

Your move: French teacher Dr Eugene Mogilevski faces off against Year 11 student Michael. In the background, Administrative Assistant Vincent Attanasio plays Year 9 student, Daksh

That enthusiasm recently spilled over into a lunchtime Staff vs Students Chess Challenge, where students faced off against players from amongst our staff, playing five minute per side ‘blitz’ games.

For Year 11 student Michael, playing the teachers was great fun. ‘Dr Mog (Eugene Mogilevski) had me under pressure the whole time because I knew how good a player he was. I’ve had him as a teacher in the past and already knew he is a strong character. I was eager to play him to keep up a relationship with him.’

Daksh from Year 9 finished eighth overall out of 299 student players in the Open Secondary Division (Years 7–12) in the State Chess Finals in October, so perhaps unsurprisingly, he won all three of his games against the staff. Of his final game, he said ‘Mr Attanasio fought back fiercely and launched a counterattack, but I managed to keep my position intact. We played it out and in the end, I had a dominant grasp on the position.’

His love of this game is clear. ‘Chess is an amazing game,’ he enthuses. ‘It requires and develops many technical and analytical abilities. Most of all, it's fun and rewarding when you come up with a game-winning, tactical combination.’

While the academic benefits of playing chess are well known, Chess Club organiser and Individual Needs teacher Chris Doerre also points to its clear social value. ‘Many students who earlier in the year felt they didn’t have close friends have, through a shared and developing interest in chess, established strong friendships and developed a newfound sense of belonging,’ he said.

And the challenge results? Despite their best efforts, the staff team went down to the victorious students, who won 11 – 7. Better luck next year, teachers!

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