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There are many opportunities for students to participate in competitive and social chess at Churchie. Competitive chess is centred on the GPS Chess season which is aligned with the winter sports. Played in Term 2 and Term 3 in a home and away format, Churchie competes against other members of the GPS Association.

Students, if invited, may also compete in extra-curricular competitions organised by a variety of bodies and supported by the School. Additionally, Churchie organises a House Lightning Chess Competition and a Best of Vikings pre-season tournament.

Concurrently, social chess is encouraged in house rooms and at Chess Club, which is scheduled during Terms 1, 2 and 3. There are plenty of opportunities for keen chess players at Churchie.

Teams are coached by a combination of teaching staff, Old Boys and professional coaches. An active Chess Parent Support Group meets regularly to support the activity.

Grandmaster visits Churchie

Churchie’s chess teams were delighted to meet Old Boy, Grandmaster David Smerdon (2001). David is currently the second-highest-ranked chess player in Australia and one of only three active Australian Grandmasters. The humorous, insightful discussion of his journey from a Churchie schoolboy to that of a grandmaster was more than enough encouragement for our young men wishing for similar success.

David and Yi Liu are the only two students in Churchie’s history who have been chess captains in both Years 11 and 12. Despite playing Churchie’s best players simultaneously and winning all his games, David noted the standard of Churchie chess had certainly improved since he last played at the School.


Chess existed at the School long before it became a GPS activity. It was played among the boarders as a recreational activity and the first reference to it is in The Viking in 1922. Chess, the ‘thinking sport’, has a long and proud history at Churchie. In 1946 a Chess Club was formed. The School also entered its first regular chess competition with Brisbane State High School.

The Chess Club continued to function to varying degrees through the 1950s and 1960s with lunchtime competitions and the occasional interschool competition. Interest and activity revived in the 1970s, especially with the support of Simon O’Halloran who joined the staff in 1972. By 1973 the Chess Club had 50 members and competition matches were held with Ipswich and Brisbane Grammar School. Players also competed in the Queensland Chess Championships. Although chess did not become a formal GPS activity until 1996, there already existed an informal competition involving several GPS schools. It was offered in five divisions and the School fielded three, and sometimes four, teams in these competitions. Churchie won its first Chess GPS Premiership in 1997, the year after the GPS competition began, and it dominated the initial competition with six successive premierships. Churchie Chess players have won eight premierships from 1988 to 2010. Churchie has also had a Grandmaster emerge from its Old Boys, David Smerdon (2001).