By Heather Lusk
A team of students from Eagle Elementary finished first in the state in chess after a full day of competition and an exciting last-minute finish.
Third grade teammates Naitik Rambhia, Allie Johnson, Jake Cero and Max Kitchell competed against 59 other teams and 230 players in the third grade and under division at the Scholastic Chess of Indiana team tournament held March 22 in Terre Haute.
The outcome came down to the final game, with Allie drawing a tie. If she had lost her match, the trophy likely wouldn’t have come to Zionsville, chess coach Michael Johnson said.
Allie had no idea the result was up to her until the match was over.
“I wasn’t exactly sure how everyone else did at that point,” Allie said.
Two teams of Eagle Elementary third graders competed at the tournament. Johnson said that his goal for the “A team” was a top five finish and his goal for the “B team” was a top 20 finish. The B team finished 12th overall.
“A team” player Max Kitchell won all six of his rounds by keeping his strategy consistent.
“Everyone has a weakness,” Max said. “I just try to exploit that weakness the best I can and just try to win.”
The players on the “A team” were proud of the “B team.”
“They were a really important part,” Max said. “If they weren’t there, I never would have gotten as good as I am.”
The two teams finished fifth and second at the regional level, although the roster shifted between the two teams for the state championship.
Team B members are Jack Hargreaves, Maeve Campbell, Zoe Chappell and Evan Reynolds.
Naitik and Allie competed earlier this year in the individual state championship, with Naitik finishing fifth and Allie finishing 48th. All of the students participate in the Eagle Elementary chess club and are part of the competing arm of the club’s team.