WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Since launching a chess program five years ago, the Greene School chess team has yet to lose a match.
Coach Antonis Loudaros has coached for more than 35 years in Palm Beach County. He said their team is like nothing he's ever seen before.
"They're gifted," Loudaros said. "They really work for it."
The Greene School chess team finished fifth at the 2022 National Elementary Championship in Columbus, Ohio. Twelve of the 48 total students on the Greene School team competed against the best players in the nation.
The kindergarten-through-third-grade team is comprised of two first-graders and three third-graders. Some of the students started playing just six months prior to taking home the trophy.
Team captain Cameron Greene said he and his teammates have put in a lot of work preparing for the national competition.
"You have to practice a lot, play a lot, do tournaments to get experience," he said.
Teddy Soylemed is in first grade but is already strategizing for his next game.
"I feel like I've learned a lot," Soylemed said. "When it's an offense game, when you really want to attack because you have a great opening, like, you have lines that are open, you can like attack on the open lines."
For third-grader Max Ulmer, it's about the competition and not letting his nerves get the best of him.
"Sometimes I would get out of my seat when I was playing and try to walk around and relax because I felt really nervous," Ulmer said.
Plus, their coach said, this year's win was only the beginning.
"I believe in them," Loudaros said.