Students at Westport Public look set to defend their title of chess champions in Sydney this November

TOUGH COMPETITION: The stakes are high as students hone their skills. Photos: Laura Telford
TOUGH COMPETITION: The stakes are high as students hone their skills. Photos: Laura Telford

The chess team from Westport Public school are just two wins away from being national champions and yet they are still all hard at work trying to hone their skills.

Unbeaten on the Lower North Coast for the last 17 years, the current group of players are the best of the best according to Year 5/6 teacher Craig Ainsworth, who said the domination is due to the mentoring and culture of the chess club.

“Our kids have no fear about losing because we are teaching them about the learning process, our program takes a very targeted approach where older students mentor the younger students, passing on knowledge.

Jack Gough, Doug Toomey and Jarrod McKenzie making sure their game is up to scratch.

Jack Gough, Doug Toomey and Jarrod McKenzie making sure their game is up to scratch.

“Due to our targeted approach we know that the students who are in our chess teams are doing better in all subjects due to the critical thinking they are learning in chess.

“Our top players are constantly apprenticing those who are up and coming so that everyone can be the best they can be,” Mr Ainsworth said.

Student Blair Kempsley, currently ranked number two in the school said that he loves the sport and the challenge.

“The best part of chess is that we are constantly in competition and learning new ways to improve our game,” Blair Kempsley said.

Jarrod McKenzine and Jorja Schofield go head to head.

Jarrod McKenzine and Jorja Schofield go head to head.

“I have only been playing for two years and I got into chess because my friends were all doing it, but I hope one day to be a state or national champion,” he said.

The team made up of Jack Gough, Blair, Doug Toomey, John Page, Jarrod McKenzie and Jorja Schfield has a good chance to make it back to the top to defend their national title.

“I think we have a good chance this year, our team is really strong and we have been practicing really hard,” Blair said.

Blair Kemsley, Jogn Page and Jorja Schofield in their element.

Blair Kemsley, Jogn Page and Jorja Schofield in their element.

The team head to the inter school championships and, if the win, the championship finals on Saturday November 25 and the one day titles on November 26 in Sydney.