Chess champs are getting younger and younger

Grandmasters, fresh-faced rising stars hosted at this weekend’s Canadian Open

Sooke resident Rowan James

Sooke resident Rowan James

When Paul Leblanc started playing chess four decades ago, the players were all adults, the youngest being university-aged students.

These days, it’s quite a different scene.

“It’s remarkable,” said Leblanc. “When I go down to the chess club, there’s a kid in Grade 6 who beats me every time. There’s a kid in Grade 1 who is going to be beating me in about another year.”

That Sooke youngster is Rowan James. He’ll get back to Victoria on time to play his opening match in the Canadian Open Chess Championship on Sunday (July 8), after competing in a series of tournaments in Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver.

“He’s on the professional circuit and he’s six years old,” said Leblanc, who attributes the trend to the introduction of chess championships in grade schools about 15 years ago.

Leblanc is one of the organizers of the upcoming Open. The nine-game, six-day event is an international tournament – a step above the recent Grand Pacific Open, which generally attracts more local talent.

“We had to go to Toronto last year and put a bid in for it,” Leblanc said. “It hadn’t been held in British Columbia since 1999, so we thought it was time for the province to put in a bid.”

Five years’ organizing the Grand Pacific tournament gave the local group the reputation they needed to secure the bid.

There are 150 players registered, including grandmasters from Israel, the United States and possibly one from Toronto. There are $15,000 in prizes, with $2,000 going to the champion and lesser amounts to players in different ranks.

Nobody is eliminated during a chess championship. Every registrant plays nine games, but winners are matched with other winners as the games progress.

The public is invited to watch the tournament in person for free, or live on the Internet.

It takes place at the Hotel Grand Pacific on Belleville Street from July 8 to 13.

For information about tournament times, visit http://monroi.com/2012-cocc-home.html.

rholmen@vicnews.com

Did you know?

• Alberta’s chess champion, Richard Wang from Edmonton, is only 13.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This photo of Cheryl-Lynn Townsin and her daughter, Lexi, is part of Townsin’s documentary, RARE HUMANS - Turning Hope into Action, her capstone project for her graduate degree from Royal Roads University. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl-Lynn Townsin)
Greater Victoria mother’s grief fuels documentary of ‘Turning Hope into Action’

Lexi, 6, died in 2019 from Blau Syndrome and is among the children documented

This dead fir tree is one of many in Mount Douglas Park. Nine dead trees will be removed from the Douglas Creek site starting March 8 to make way for the construction of a new pedestrian bridge. (Photo courtesy Jason Clarke)
Nine dead, hazardous trees to be removed from Saanich park ahead of bridge construction

Felling begins March 8, minor trail interruptions expected in Mount Douglas Park

A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)
COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read