The Nicollet Knights chess club began when the school opened in 1970 with math teacher Jack Berger as coach. Brian Ribnick became the coach in 1980 and shifted the program to Metcalf Middle School until that school closed in 2020. The program then returned to Nicollet Middle School in Fall 2020.
Chess is the largest after-school activity at Nicollet. The team won the MN State Middle School title in 2021, 2022 and 2023. In 2023, Nicollet won its first National Championship in the blitz portion of the competition in Austin, Texas.
The mission of Nicollet Knights Chess is:
…to build character, encourage children to overcome the fear of risk taking;
…to teach concentration and self-discipline;
…to enable children to assume responsibility for their decisions;
…to reward determination and perseverance;
…to raise self-esteem and promote good sportsmanship;
…to encourage socialization skills that extend across cultures and generations.
The club has an active booster club called the P-Team.
Brian Ribnick is a member of the MN Chess Hall of Fame and the 2003 recipient of the state’s Academic Coach of the Year award by the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation. He has coached 33 national champion teams, 35 state championship teams and has been a chess coach for 53 years. He is a retired math/science teacher in ISD 191 at both Nicollet and Metcalf middle schools.
Nels Truelson is our head trainer. He is a chess master, in the MN Chess Hall of Fame and is currently the South Dakota State Champ.
Tyler McDonald has been assistant coach of the program for 8 years and is a Burnsville High School alum.
Mark Burtnett is a chess parent, head of the team’s fundraising committee, and an assistant coach.
Steph Lindquist is a chess parent and an assistant coach.
The club operates through Burnsville Community Education and meets in the Nicollet Middle School media center on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons after school from mid-October to mid-March.