Chess champs are getting younger and younger

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

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

Rare white orca spotted hunting off shores of Alaska for first time

Tl’uk seems healthy and strong, says researcher

Mental health challenges add to youth stress load

Part 2 in a Black Press series on Youth Homelessness

Langford bike park rolling along to completion

New park a tribute to Jordie Lunn’s legacy

Oak Bay council places 60-day protection order on Island Road house

Developer pulled heritage agreement over ‘exorbitant’ $417,000 fees

Saanich council to dig into long-awaited garden suite study

Detached suites keep families close, provide financial flexibility, mayor says

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read