Franklin Elementary

In the mid-1990's we had the pleasure of coaching a group of kids from Franklin Elementary school.  Most of these players were in 3rd grade when they learned to play chess.  These players would pretty much stay together through high school - in a group just called "The Team".

In their first year they won the 1995 Illinois K-3 championship, and went on to place 5th nationally in the K-5 tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The next year this group took 1st in state again, and finished 3rd in the 1996 K-5 championships in Tucson, Az.

In 1997 they set scoring records in the state championship, with a then record of 24 out of 28 in the 4th-5th grade section.  Team members finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 10th in the tournament, and a team victory was assured after only 6 of 7 rounds.  The team then went on to take 1st in the K-5 section at Supernationals.  Here is a CNN video on the team following their state championship win.

1998 brought saw the end to a streak of 23 consecutive tournament wins.  The Franklin Cavemen team were basically 6th graders competing in a 6-8 grade section at state, and finished a narrow second at state that year.  However, they also finished 2nd at Nationals in the K-6 section.


See below for articles that have appeared in the press for teams and individuals coached by Kevin Bachler


School Club Flexes Its Mind; Chess Champions Drag 3rd Trophy Back To Cave, Chicago Tribune 3/17/97

Young Chess Stars Make Quiet Noise, Chicago Tribune 4/27/1998

Once A Pawn A Time . . ., Chicago Tribune 3/4/1996

Park Ridge School's Chess Team Wins A State Title In Its First Year Of Play Chicago Tribune, 4/26/95

MacArthur, Ameritech host state chess tourney  Daily Herald 3/4/96

KIDS CHECK OUT CHESS The Waukegan News Sun 2/16/98


Strategy of Learning Waukegan News Sun, 8/28/98

Kings_of_the_chess_scene Crains Chicago Business, 3/12/2001


Emerson Middle School (1998-2000

1999 saw the team move on to Emerson Middle school, where they won the state championship for the next two years.

In Nationals they also won the 7th grade national championship in 1999, and the Junior High Championship in 2000.

The team was also featured on Bozo's Hobby Corner in 1999.



Maine South (2000-2007)

Though Maine South was often competitive at Nationals, they never pulled off a National Championship.  They did come close on a couple of occasions, the closest being a 2nd place finish in the 12th grade nationals in 2004.

During my time coaching there Maine South won 3 state championships, finished 2nd three times (twice were ties), and once fell completely out of the money.  In our best season in 2002, the team was 27-1 for the year, and took first in what may have been the strongest IHSA state championship to date.  6 teams were very strong that year, and I believe all 6 finished in the top 15 at nationals that year.