Cheque it out: ACHS Chess Team takes first in NLCC Conference

On Saturday, Nov. 13, the Antioch Community High School Chess Team competed in the NLCC Conference at Lakes. They reclaimed their first place trophy for the fifth year in a row, and will be playing in the state tournament in February.


Aaliyah Lizak

Once a pawn a time, the Sequoits chess team won the NLCC conference for the fifth consecutive year.

The chess team began their season in late September, and they have already secured the title of NLCC Conference Champions. There were eight boards set up in order of skill, where all teams faced off to take the number one spot. Games were played 35:5, meaning they lasted no longer than 120 minutes. 

Head coach Jake House has been working hard with new players to transform them from mediocre to well-rounded. He credits his assistant coach Scot Henderson for pushing the strong players to be even better. The varsity players put hours into mastering strategies and drills. 

“Good coaching only goes as far as the players are willing to accept it,” House said. “Our varsity players – who have been playing with us for up to 4 years – have taken it upon themselves to become great players.”

Junior Justin Pedersen has been on the team since his freshman year, and he is excited to be a part of a winning team after they were unable to have a season last year. 

“It means a lot that I can be part of our ACHS chess legacy,” Pedersen said. “The award shows that ACHS is an academic powerhouse, especially compared to other schools.”

Senior Connor Keppen has been playing for four years, three of which were on varsity. He takes pride in this win and is very proud of the hard work that has got the team to this point.

“Each member of our team was in it to win it,” Keppen said. “I see this award as a staple to our development as a team.”

While Keppen is a senior, he is confident that the team will continue to thrive in years to come. The JV team played the final round of the tournament, which gave them confidence and more experience on the board. They can use this experience to continue leading the team to victory in years to come. 

Even with a strong start to the season, it is just the beginning. State will be stiff competition filled with tough competitors.

Senior Alex Ware is on varsity and plays the top board. While he views the win as an added accomplishment, he believes that the team needs to continue showing significant improvement to remain at the top. 

“This won’t affect the future of the team very much, since we still have some much more difficult tournaments coming up,” Ware said. “In order to perform well at those, we will need to work much harder.”

Being undefeated in conference is a huge achievement for any school. For these hard-working chess players, it is just another experience under their belt. They are determined to become even stronger players for their upcoming tournaments.