Regina's largest ever chess tournaments draw national competitors
Posted on Jul 8, 2019 by Brad McCabe

"Five, 10 years ago, there was no such thing as a chess tournament in Saskatchewan, or if they existed no one knew of them."

In an effort to put Saskatchewan back on the map for chess players across Canada, the Queen City Chess Club is hosting two of the nation’s largest chess tournaments over the next two weeks.

An estimated 185 youth ages eight to 18 from across Canada arrived at the Travelodge in Regina on Saturday for the opening ceremony of the Canadian Youth Chess Championship’s (CYCC) — the largest youth chess tournament in the country.

The tournament will run until July 10, followed by the prestigious Canadian Open from July 12 to 18, which boasts $15,000 in prizes.

“It’s pretty big. It’s a lot for us. We’ve held tournaments in the past, we’ve organized lots, but they’re mostly local … This is by far the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” said Queen City Chess Club president Tom Boshoff.

These tournaments are usually held in bigger cities, Boshoff noted, but this year the club wanted to host the event to bring more awareness to chess in Saskatchewan.

“Five, 10 years ago, there was no such thing as a chess tournament in Saskatchewan, or if they existed no one knew of them,” he said. “We’ve at least pushed chess in Saskatchewan further.”

With sponsorship from the Regina Hotel Association and the Travelodge’s willingness to host the event, the Queen City Chess Club was able to turn this dream into a reality.

Now that the time has come and competitors have arrived in the city, Boshoff has just one wish.

“I just want everything to run smoothly and have the place not burn down,” he said with a laugh.

All of the competitors at CYCC had to qualify in other tournaments to attend. Top three finishers in each of the 12 age and gender categories at this competition will receive a sponsorship to attend the World Youth Chess Championship, held in India for the older categories and in China for the younger categories.

Regina’s 10-year-old Alan Li said he is feeling “a little nervous” about the competition here, but with five years of playing chess and a number of large tournaments under his belt, he said he already knows exactly what to expect.

“It really tests your brain for strategies and stuff, and the more you do it, you see more ways to get tactics and stuff.”

Avram Tcherni, a member of the Queen City Chess Club, will be competing in the Canadian Open and is also volunteering at CYCC. He started playing chess at age four and has now competed across Canada in 12 different national tournaments.

The challenge and the strategy is what attracts him to the game, but it is the camaraderie between competitors — especially in Saskatchewan — that keeps him involved in the chess community.

Tcherni also hopes to see interest in the game grow, particularly in youth.

“There’s a common misconception that you have to be smart to play chess,” he said. “I’ve heard this from a grandmaster before, that you don’t have to be smart to play chess, but chess can make you smart.”

As part of the Canadian Open, Russian grandmaster Alexander Cherniaev will give a lecture on historical chess player H. N. Pillsbury on July 16 at 10 a.m. He will also play 30 games of chess against different people at the same time. This event is open to the public, with a $10 admission.

Article by Lynn Giesbrecht as posted on the Regina Leader-Post.
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