‘Ottawa’ The Canadian Chess Championship Makes Its Saskatchewan Debut
Brooks Jiang lost a game, then won a game, but was fazed by neither result.
As the Grade 3 player for Team Saskatchewan, Jiang was only concerned about playing his best.
On a break between matches during the Canadian Chess Challenge tournament, held Sunday and Monday in Regina, Jiang continued to play chess — a game he has enjoyed for the past year.
“I just like the game,” said Jiang, who lives in Saskatoon. “My dad taught me the moves and things, and I read books to get better.”
Each year the Canadian Chess Challenge brings together 120 students — one from each grade in all 10 provinces.
For the first time in its 28-year history, the competition was held in Saskatchewan.
Facing off at five long tables in the University of Regina multipurpose room, “There’s really no noise coming from the floor. It’s the parents,” said Lauri Lintott, the tournament’s provincial coordinator.
“There are some pretty serious games in there, so they don’t need any distractions.”
The Riddell Centre common area was less silent: Chess boards were set up at almost every table, where children like Jiang and adults like Zach Lintott could practise.
Hosting the competition is “huge,” said Lintott, Lauri’s son and Saskatchewan’s coach.
“It’s really good for our youth program because Saskatchewan’s always had a hard time bringing in younger players and that’s something we’ve been really trying to work with for the last couple years,” said Lintott.
“We hope to keep their spirit because chess is good for math and logical thinking, so we want to promote chess in Saskatchewan,” said Simon Li, whose son Andrew was Saskatchewan’s Grade 9 representative.
Li started teaching his son the game when he was in Grade 2.
“At Grade 6, 7, he already beat me and I cannot teach him,” said Li.
As Saskatchewan is small province population wise, it’s hard to find coaches and even players to compete against, said Li.
Jiang mostly plays his dad and other adults at the Saskatoon Chess Club’s Sunday meetings.
Lintott would like to see chess become part of school curriculum, as it is in other countries — and even in other provinces, like Quebec and Ontario.
“Kids who grow up playing chess or are interested in chess — they’re a lot more patient, they think a lot more about everyday activities,” said Lintott, who started playing in Grade 4. “It teaches you about competition, one-on-one sports and it helps you be independent.”
“Chess is more than just a game. It’ll help your decision-making, your problem-solving,” added Nigel Reynoldson.
The 19-year-old said chess has helped him over the years — keeping him out of trouble and de-stressing him during tough times. And unlike other sports, which can require a heavy financial investment, it’s basically free to play, aside from a $20 game board.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is or what your training is; everything that can be done on the board can be done by either player,” said Lintott.
The competition continues Monday, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the U of R Riddell Centre multipurpose room.