Chess enthusiasts gear for Challenge with beach event

World youth chess champion Jason Cao

World youth chess champion Jason Cao

Festival runs same weekend as Canadian tournament

Willows Beach will teem with chess enthusiasts, checkered boards, giant chess pieces and a barbecue this weekend.

The Willows Beach Blitz Chess Festival precedes the 23rd annual Canadian Chess Challenge with an afternoon of activities at the beach on Saturday (May 21).

All twelve B.C. chess champions will attend, including Saanich resident and current under-10 world champion, Jason Cao.

The public is invited to test their skill in casual matches, which kick off the event and run from noon to 3 p.m. People are also encouraged to create sandy works of art – with a chess theme, of course – on the beach for the sand castle competition.

At 2 p.m., nets will be strung up for games of volleyball and badminton.

At 3 p.m. the Willows Beach Blitz chess championships get underway on the promenade. People interested in challenging other players (many of whom are competitors and even champions) can pre-register at www.victoriajuniorchess.com. Registration is $10 in advance or $15 at the event, but only 100 spots are available. While it’s not an officially sanctioned event, winners are recorded and could be invited to compete in future tournaments.

Finally, at 5 p.m., the barbecue will be fired up and ready to serve dinner to people in attendance. Dinner is $10 for children or $15 for adults.

The Canadian Chess Challenge, featuring up to 120 of the top grade school-aged players from across Canada, takes place at the University of Victoria’s Michelle Pujol room in the Student Union Building from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Spectators are welcome.

ecardone@vicnews.com