Team Meriden has earned the title of the state’s top schoolgirls’ chess team after securing a victory in the NSW Chess Playoffs. The girls are now preparing to represent New South Wales in the Australian Secondary Girls Schools Teams Championships later this year.
Members of the champion team include Laura Croxon, Leah Har, Chantelle Ma, Selina Wang and Aiyang Wu. Despite facing formidable opponents, the girls were unshakable under pressure and delivered consistent results with team unity and determination. The team played three matches with the average duration for each game taking approximately two and a half hours.
Team Captain, Laura, said winning the NSW Chess Playoffs holds immense significance to the girls, who have been consistently striving to enhance their skills and progress to this level for several years.
“Our dream was to one day make it to nationals. Witnessing the girls’ growth and development as chess players, and now seeing them emerge as champions in the Playoffs, is incredible. Competing at nationals will be an amazing experience for all of us. I feel very fortunate to have the chance to play the best girls in the country,” said Laura.
Aiyang said she is very proud that her team’s hard work has paid off.
“Each year, we have come closer and closer to this point, and it is exciting that we are able to play in the national competition. I am looking forward to playing strong players from all over the country; it will be a valuable experience to learn more about how others play,” said Aiyang.
Meriden’s Chess Coordinator, Ms Lea Magele, is helping to prepare the girls for the national tournament.
“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime chess experience for our students. They will have the opportunity to meet top Australian chess players and fellow chess enthusiasts, as well as participate in high-level game analysis. They will also be given rare chess opportunities. For example, in past tournaments, international chess masters have held lectures during the competition,” said Ms Magele.
Both Laura and Aiyang agree they have reaped many valuable benefits from competing in chess at Meriden.
“Chess has improved my reaction time and visual cognitive skills and, most notably, it has taught me how to deal with pressure, which is useful for things like exams, music performances or job interviews,” said Laura.
“I like how chess is an activity in which anyone can participate, as well as how unpredictable it can be. Chess has helped me develop many skills, such as pattern recognition and challenged me to think more critically when making moves,” said Aiyang.