Just rookies at chess, two Our Lady of Peace School students placed in a local multi-school chess tournament recently in Lemont. Although Brandon Jablonski, grade 5, and Joe Zabinski, grade 8, did not come home with first place ribbons, they made it clear that the OLP chess club members are strong chess competitors.

“I wanted to see other kids’ strategies,” Jablonski said. “Playing chess keeps my mind off of homework and the competition was a lot of fun.”

Only in its second year and still picking up steam, the OLP chess club provides a forum to teach kids how to play through practice and worksheets, not just games.

“It’s a great way to exercise the mind outside of studying,” Father Walter said. “Lots of kids have a great beginning and middle game, and don’t know how to end it. This club teaches them how to go the distance.”

With the help and knowledge of Mike Santay, an OLP father who took over running the club this year and Dolly Michael, an OLP parishioner with a love for the game, more of the kids may gain the confidence to compete in the future, Father Walter added.

According to Zabinski, who enjoys the opportunity to play chess with his friends after school, the games were challenging and exciting.

“I played four really good games of chess at the tournament,” Zabinski said. “ I like playing with my friends, but this was a new challenge for me.”