Checkmate! Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion Wins State
Don’t tell the students in the chess club Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion Elementary School that the game of chess can be considered intimidating. Around 120 students attend chess club after school on Fridays for instruction and play.
“As kids spend more time playing, they are obviously going to get better,” says Jonathan London, one of the chess coaches at the school. “Chess is a pattern recognition game. When you look at the board and see the different patterns, you build on that experience and become a better player.”
Students in the Primary division, which is Kindergarten through third grade, won the School Chess Association Statewide Championship. Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion (RSI) has a case full of trophies in the hall for chess. They also won state in the K-3 division last year and the upper division of grades 4 and 5 did well in the tournament too. “It takes a lot of people,” says London. “Parents allow us to do so much. They are very driven to push kids to do extra beyond just the club and that translates into a winning environment.”
Robbinsdale Area Schools also has a history of supporting chess in schools. Staff member Lawrence Lampert founded the School Chess Association in 1969. The first statewide tournament was also held at Noble Elementary school that same year.
Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion students take home overall awards
Third grader Alexander Browne won first place overall. “I practice,” says Browne. “If they come to me, I’ll defend and if I can attack them, I’ll attack them.”
Chess Coach Jonathan London says Browne is a student who plays not only against family and friends, but in tournaments around the Midwest. “There’s probably hundreds of hours that went into his ability to win this year’s state championship,” says London.
Second grader Nora Litman took home 13th place, but says it’s her second biggest trophy. Her key to winning? “I just like all the strategies,” explains Litman. “I just played the same thing for white and the same thing for black.”
Third grader Griffin Schmidt placed fifth overall. He says he tries to go out and play his best game every time. “Just figure the moves and try to learn different strategies,” says Schmidt. “It’s really fun to play against the other players.”