They must maintain good grades and good behavior. Any violation, and they aren't allowed to take part in a tournament.
The successful program isn't funded by the school district, Nichols said.
“Parents, employers and business owners help us,” he said. “We also have two major fundraisers a year.”
The students are big fans of the club and the intricate board game.
Mayson Anderson, 11, is in her second year with the club. She admits she's competitive, whether it involves traditional sports or chess.
“It's really fun,” she said. “I like to help out the team and hope to be in a club when I go to Sequoyah (Middle School) next year.” Her proficiency in the game keeps improving, and she said she can defeat her parents.
Brandon Townsend, a fourth-grader, is another student who loves the opportunities provided by strategically moving pawns, rooks, knights and the other pieces.
“I like the challenge,” he said. “I also like winning medals.”
The team concept is vital.
“A lot of these kids haven't been on a team before, so this is beneficial to them,” Nichols said.
And chess is an inclusive sport. In most years, the ratio of boys and girls is 50/50, he said. Minority children also are urged to participate.
“We break the stereotype,” he said. “You don't have to be white, male and affluent to participate. We're open here.”
The next big event is at Ida Freeman as the club hosts the Ida Freeman Winter Open on Jan. 19.
“It will be time to defend our own house,” Nichols said.