Check it out, mate: chess giants contesting title in Victoria

Grand Pacific Open, provincial championships help put Victoria on map in chess world

Saanich resident Howard Wu is one of more than 100 players

Saanich resident Howard Wu is one of more than 100 players

Love of the game and the chance, however small, to play one of the world’s leading chess players spurred Howard Wu to register in the largest annual open chess tournament in Western Canada.

More than 100 players from five countries, four Canadian provinces and six U.S. states have registered to compete in the sixth Grand Pacific Open, happening Friday (April 6) through Monday at the Hotel Grand Pacific, 463 Belleville St.

For Wu, the highlight will be either playing against or watching Hikaru Nakamura, an international grandmaster ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and sixth in the world.

“There is a chance (to play against him), depending on how I end up doing in earlier rounds,” said Wu, a Gordon Head resident and national chess master. At the Open, participants play six rounds of games until one player is left.

“Once we sit down, it would just be like playing any strong player, although the result would probably be different,” Wu said, laughing. “But you approach it the same way. It’s just the honour and privilege to play against someone at that level.”

He also planned to root for two junior players he coaches. They are among more than 150 kids from kindergarten to Grade 12 from around the province who are competing in the B.C. Chess Challenge on Friday.

The high registration numbers for the junior provincial championships and the Grand Pacific Open signals that Victoria is on the map in the chess world. And that means a bright future awaits.

“It’s good for the success of our event in future years,” said Brian Raymer, event organizer and president of the Victoria Junior Chess Society. “We have a high number of returning players and we always get a few new ones every year.”

Spectators are welcome to attend for free. For details, please visit grandpacificopen.com.

emccracken@vicnews.com

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