Get to know the Lakota East chess club as they prepare for the upcoming GMC matches.


Ezri Colpi, Culture Editor



In a small high school classroom, two opponents sit at a desk, facing each other in a battle of the minds. Carefully, a set of hands strategically picks up a piece and moves it to the winning spot, declaring him the champion. Veteran advisor Pat Krieder has seen many such moves and knows his squad is ready for the GMC tournament.

Kreider said that the meetings at the beginning of the year consist of learning different chess strategy openings, and talking about “end game” or “tactics for the middle of the game.” It’s about practicing and playing other people, said Kreider, so that they are ready for when competition season rolls around.

“We still do a lot of learning, we’ll watch videos and try puzzles from, but we just have fun,” said Krieder.

Along with being the advisor of the chess club, he also teaches CP Precalc and AP Calculus BC at Lakota East. Kreider was first introduced to chess by his father and later played with his siblings growing up. About 9 years ago, Kreider noticed the lack of a chess club at East and took immediate action. He consulted Richard Bryant, the former Athletic Director, and after getting approval, he kickstarted his own GMC-qualifying chess club. In the GMC, Chess and Academic Quiz teams are considered League sports.

“[In regards to chess] I’ve always enjoyed it,” said Kreider. “There was a two-to-three-year period in 2012 and 2013 where we [East] didn’t have a team, so I decided to pick them up.”

Brad Warren, one of East’s new English teachers, works alongside Krieder to build a chess team that is well-prepared for the GMC tourney. Krieder “more than willingly” invited him in, to which Krieder responds that Warren has become a “huge asset for the club.” Warren was first taught to play chess by his mother and played with his father as well. Warren, as a high school student at a school for performing arts, happened to meet a family who had emigrated from Ukraine who all played piano, and enjoyed chess.

“During lunch, the boys would play chess. So I made friends with one of the piano players and we started hanging out playing chess,” Warren said. This is what “sparked” a deeper interest in chess for him.

The East team’s talent stretches further than the classroom, and into GMC competitions. Twice a week they have a match against another school. The top 5 players from East will play the other schools’ top 5 players in a best-of-five match. “You have to win at least three boards in order to win that match,” said Kreider. The tournament is over in late November.

Sean Huggins, a Senior chess club veteran, will be leading the team at Board 1. “The top five play for actual points, anyone else can go, but only top five boards count for the points,” Huggins, who is one of the top three players that are “pretty much set in stone [for the competitions],” said Krieder. The top player this year is sophomore Ryan Everding, and according to Krieder, it’s mainly sophomores and juniors that the club consists of, with very few freshmen.

“Every year we get three or four [new] kids,” Kreider said. “It’s rare that we get someone who has never played before, but I always welcome anybody at any level.”

Warren discovered that as much as he enjoys playing some of the best players, he also loves playing against newer participants. It’s the “horsing around” and “talking trash” that he enjoys because chess “[doesn’t always have to be serious].” He compares chess culture to the same way the varsity football team interacts. There’s a varsity group in chess that has its own “competition” and “jokes” that makes this comparison true.

Both Krieder and Warren told Spark that they welcome anybody interested in chess, no matter their ability level. They hope to find kids that enjoy the game and enjoy the social aspects of the sport.

“The game chess has its own ‘culture and identity,’” said Warren. He wants to be able to show and bring more voices to that understanding.

“We are always looking for people who just enjoy the game. You don’t have to be a great player, we all have different ability levels,” said Krieder. He compares the process of learning chess to the same as “building rockets.”

The Lakota East chess club consists of around 25 members that meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Their goal is to further prepare for the current GMC (Greater Miami Conference) matches with other schools in the Ohio area, already claiming victory against Mason, Lakota West, and Sycamore. In 2021, the team finished fourth, and their best year yet was in 2018 when they placed third.