By Riya Chinni
Like most elementary school-age boys, Edward Chen, Drew Kim, Timmy Lim and Aditya Poduval enjoy a variety of outdoor activites. But unlike most, they spend hours practicing as a chess team for Smoky Row Elementary.
In May, they won fifth place at the U.S. Chess Federation’s National Elementary Championship. Prior to that, they won the Scholastic Chess of Indiana State Team Championship for the third consecutive year. They are the first elementary level team in Indiana to win three straight.
Most of the boys were introduced to chess early by their families.
“My dad bought me a chess book when I was 5, and I just got into it,” Lim said.
The boys began playing as a team in December of 2016 and said they enjoy the team aspect, especially during competitions.
“I feel pretty good (at chess competitions) because most times I do well, but other times when I lose, my teammates do well,” Kim said. “Since it’s a team, if another person loses, another person can do well, so we kind of have each other’s backs.”
Although the boys practice often, chess coach Aaron Dean said he tries to keep make it fun.
“I try to make it fun and enjoyable and at the same time get tough tactics and scenarios across,” Dean said.
Although the team has been together for a few years, it will face a significant change in the new school year. Kim, Lim and Poduval will enter Carmel Middle School as sixth graders. Chen will remain at Smoky Row for fifth grade.
Chen said the age difference has been beneficial for him and that the teammates constantly learn from each other.
“They can teach me if they’re better than me,” he said.
Chen will join another team for his age group in the new year while the other three will play with a fourth member for the year.
When Chen enters middle school, the boys said they will be excited to reunite and play as a team again.