GREEN BAY — Members of the St. John Paul II Classical School chess team were happy to discover that the school’s new home this coming fall has a trophy case. The school will relocate from the Holy Family School site in Green Bay to the current St. Philip the Apostle School building on the city’s east side, and the team has some hardware to display.
The chess team, comprised of sixth graders Nadia Lubinski and Joachim Saindon, fifth grader Luke Lubinski and third grade students Xavier Ullmer and Sophia Lubinski, won the Wisconsin State Scholastic Division 3 Varsity Chess Championship, March 23-24 in Oshkosh. St. John Paul II Classical School finished undefeated at state-winning all five rounds.
“There are different sections at state depending on your ability and grade level,” said Coach Paul Lubinski. “The D1, D2 and D3 sections are five-player teams that go head-to-head each round. Your Board 1 plays the other team’s Board 1 and so on down the line.”
Teams must be comprised of either all high school-aged students or all K-8 students who attend the same school.
“Being that chess is a mental sport and age or size does not matter, you often see the younger kids playing older kids,” said Coach Lubinski. “One of my favorite memories from the weekend was seeing our third graders beating high school kids who look like they could be linemen for their school’s football team.”
St. John Paul II defeated three high school teams and two elementary/middle school teams to win the championship.
“The total is 40 points (in a round) if you all win,” explained Nadia. “If you win Board 1, it’s 10 points, Board 2 is nine points, Board 3 is eight points. You have to get to 20 points to win the round.”
“I knew that we had a good team, but I didn’t know how good the other teams were,” said Luke, who finished undefeated on Board 1.
“We were expecting to get second place at least,” said Xavier.
In addition to the competition, team members enjoy opportunities to meet chess players from other teams.
“Before each round, you can have a conversation,” said Joachim. “Then they say, ‘Start the clock,’ so you have to be ready to go.”
Prayer is also part of the St. John Paul II chess team experience.
“Our team prayer was not to ‘win,’ but for God to help us to play our best chess possible,” explained Coach Lubinski. “The team also asked for intersession from St. John Paul II, Our Lady of Good Help and St. Teresa of Avila, patron saint of chess players.”
Six additional St. John Paul II students participated this chess season, along with the five on the state team. Coach Lubinski said that some of the beginners this year will be ready to start playing tournaments next season.
“The plan is to keep improving and growing the team numbers,” he said. “Next year, our sights are on entering the D2 section and eventually D1. I talk to the kids about how we are not playing chess for trophies. We do it to improve ourselves through hard work and most importantly to honor God. As Catholics, we are always striving to be the best we can be in all we do to glorify him. Work ethic is so important and if you’re willing to outwork everyone else that will make the difference.”
Team members will continue to work in the off season. “It’s good to practice so you don’t forget anything,” said Nadia. “The goal is to win Division 2 next year,” said Joachim.