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

Greater Victoria woman creates ‘call list’ for seniors to tackle loneliness

Call list allows seniors to have some friendly conversation during isolating times

Report looks at COVID-19’s impact on violence in the family

Police across Canada reported almost 100,000 cases of intimate partner violence in 2018

Saanich’s Shelbourne corridor work set to start despite pandemic

Municipal work is deemed an essential service, keeping the long-term project on track

Sidney senior welcomes outreach phone calls from charity

A long-time user of Sidney’s SHOAL Centre, praises Beacon Community Services

Mental Health: Planning for a crisis

Crisis planning lays out a blueprint in case hard times hit

COVID-19 world update: 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims; alcohol sales banned in Bangkok

Comprehensive digest of coronavirus news items from around the world

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Most Read