by Andrew FitzPatrick
Trinity Anglican School (TAS) has become synonymous with chess in Far North Queensland, with no person more involved than chess coordinator and primary teacher, David Long.
For as long as I have been involved in running events in Cairns, TAS has hosted regional events and always puts on a great show. David’s enthusiasm and passion for chess and helping kids in general has been a highlight of my trips throughout the state, and he has been directly responsible for engaging many new schools who all turn to TAS as the leading FNQ chess school.
To give an idea of the scope, David can have up to 150 students (50% girls) involved in his weekly chess program out of a junior school population of under 300.
Here we have a chat with David and find out what helps makes his chess program one of the most impressive in the state!
- Trinity Anglican School (TAS) has one of the largest chess programs in Queensland. Can you tell us about the program and how you have managed to develop the program to where it is now?
We have developed a chess culture where the academic and social benefits are highly valued. We try to make it a fun program that welcomes all students to take on the challenges of chess.
- What are some of the key fundamentals that you feel make the program so successful?
At TAS we have an inclusive and differentiated chess program. It caters for students striving for mastery and for those who just want to play for fun with family/ friends.
- You have also managed to keep your chess program running across the COVID-19 situation. Could you tell us a bit more about this and how it’s worked for you?
We are proud to have provided remote chess coaching for our students via Zoom and Teams. We also had online chess tournaments using Chesskid called TAS Tuesdays.
- Your students have used Chesskid.com for a number of years now. What are the main benefits of being able to use the site?
Chesskid is great. It allows students to benefit from individual study and games in a safe and engaging way.
- What is the chess culture in Far North Queensland like?
The chess culture is like a vibrant community. Schools come together and the game is on. Students are challenged to play competitively whilst making new friends. We recognise the great intellectual value of chess.
- You have managed to hit equilibrium with male and female participants there at TAS, how important do you feel this is and how do you do it?
We encourage all students to play chess regardless of gender. We strive to develop our Girls Chess Program to empower girls to celebrate their chess skills at an Interschool level.
- TAS host the interschool tournament each term for the Far North Queensland zone. How long has TAS been hosting these events, and what do you feel this brings to the school?
We have been hosting tournaments for over 20 years. It is a great way to support our community.
- TAS have been continually improving when it comes to State Finals, with your primary girls team coming second twice in a row, whilst the primary open team is getting closer to the podium also. Do you feel that a regional team (whether that’s TAS or another team) can break through to break the domination of South-East Queensland schools?
Yes, regional teams are ready to take out a title. [Ed: David with two of his squads above. Girls State Finals on the left and Open State Finals on the right]
- How did you get involved in chess?
Many years ago, I read an article in the Courier Mail that inspired me to start our chess program. Since then I’ve been inspired to create a chess program that is at the top of the game.
- In your opinion what are the main benefits to students who are involved in chess?
Probably, the intellectual and social benefits. It challenges the brain in similar ways to learning and performing Music; and the students make so many friends.
- What’s your opinion about chess in the curriculum?
In some ways it already is; at TAS our chess program is so immersed into our school culture.
- How has the chess scene changed in your time involved there in FNQ?
When it all first started the chess community was small. Originally, we only ran intra-school chess tournaments. It has developed into a large interschool program.
- What would you like to see happen in chess in the future for FNQ or even further throughout Queensland.
It would be great to see more FNQ teams winning Interschool titles. For students I hope they can make connections with others and build new friendships through a common interest.