THE girls’ chess team from Doncaster Gardens Primary School has been crowned junior Australian and New Zealand champions.

The team won first prize at the Chess Kids National Interschool Chess Championship held last month at Monash University in Clayton.

The invitation-only, seven-game tournament included 278 of the best Australian and New Zealand primary and high school chess players.

Team member Zhi Lin was also awarded a silver medal for being the second highest scoring player at the two-day contest.

The school’s open team finished sixth.

Teacher Sue McLelland said the school’s success was a reflection of the popularity of chess among students.

There were 160 students in eight lunch time chess clubs at the 540-student school so competition to be part of the teams was tough, Mrs McLelland said.

“The students that play chess strive to be a part of that team,” she said.

Mrs McLelland said teachers were thrilled about the surge in students learning chess.

“It’s a great game to pass time but it also contributes fantastically to the students’ maths and problem-solving skills,” she said.

“Teachers really value it.”