Rook no further: Chess takes the knight

The case for a chess club at VHHS


Students around the school are finding new mates. They aren’t just finding new friends, they’re finding new checkmates.


Powered by online chess websites such as or, there is an underground movement of students playing chess. This movement has the ability to go mainstream with the creation of a new chess team or club. Whether this new activity originates from a faculty member or a student, a chess club will only serve to benefit VHHS.


While chess is not as popular as today’s video games, a large amount of students actively play the game. According to a TSP poll of 112 students, 16 percent of the surveyed group play chess at least several times per month.


There is also an interest among the student body for a chess club. The same survey states that 40 percent of students surveyed believe that VHHS should have a chess club. In comparison, two percent of students surveyed don’t believe VHHS should have a chess club. The general support for the club and the amount of people who actively play chess supports the idea that if such a club were made a significant amount of students would join it.


“I feel like it would be fun to have a bunch of people come together and play chess. It’s also competitive so you can take the game further” Mia Layton (9) says.


The first barrier preventing the formation of any club is the “proof of concept” phase. The concept of the club has to prove itself as something that can actually work and be successful. A chess club doesn’t need to spend much time going through the proof of concept phase because the concept has worked all across Illinois.  


Another pitfall clubs face is that the cost to create the club is too high. Chess, however, is a low-cost activity. Chess boards and pieces can be bought cheaply online or are free if the game is played on the internet. The majority of the cost of a chess club would be spent on tournaments if there is a competitive element. Though this competitive element is optional and does not have to be a part of a chess club.


Additionally, the school administration can prevent the creation of a new club. However, there is no evidence that the school would be against creating a chess club.


“If there’s student interest, and those students aren’t in 800 other clubs or programs, then let’s go for it,” Mrs. Beagle, the Student Activities Director, said.


Chess is an IHSA recognized activity like scholastic bowl or bass fishing. In the 2018-19 season, 153 high school chess teams officially entered the IHSA state final tournament. Chess clubs are a known quantity that work. This notion supported by the large amount of schools that have a chess club.


Within the Vernon Hills area, Stevenson, Libertyville, Mundelein, and Carmel all have chess teams. Both Middle School North & South have chess teams. The odd one out is VHHS.


“I was kind of surprised when I heard there was not a chess club,” Timothy Thieme (12) said.


The closest thing our school has to a chess club is strategy club, which is the school’s board game club. That arrangement has worked for now, but chess should be separate from strategy club. Strategy club isn’t competitive, however, a chess club may be just that.

A chess club is another way for students to connect and meet new people. It’s a game that’s intellectually challenging and effectively exercises the brain. Chess increases memory, sparks creativity, and according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, chess reduces the likelihood of Alzheimer’s. Now the next step is to make a VHHS club a reality.