Schools from Mid-South Canterbury competed for spots in national chess competition

Waihi College pupil Will Saunders, left, plays Fenwick School pupil Andrew Kaufana, while Fenwick School pupil Hamish ...
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Waihi College pupil Will Saunders, left, plays Fenwick School pupil Andrew Kaufana, while Fenwick School pupil Hamish Milne looks on.

That chess is a sport that can cross age and language barriers could be behind its recent rise in popularity, Mid-South Canterbury educators say. 

A regional tournament was held at Roncalli College on Friday, and 99 learners from schools between Oamaru and Ashburton competed for spots in the national tournament to be held in October. 

Ashburton College teacher Ken Pow said he had been involved with the sport for 35 years and the sport was enjoying a boost in popularity.

St Joseph's School Timaru pupil Louisa Stuart, left, plays Gleniti School pupil Stephanie Bromley.
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

St Joseph's School Timaru pupil Louisa Stuart, left, plays Gleniti School pupil Stephanie Bromley.

Immigration was playing its part, with a noticeable increase in the number of new New Zealanders and their families being involved.

Three members of the 10-person-strong team from Ashburton College were from the Philippines, he said. 

The students "brought the game with them" when they arrived in New Zealand, he said.

Fenwick School pupil Kiasah Lamont playing chess on Friday.
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Fenwick School pupil Kiasah Lamont playing chess on Friday.

It was a great leveller: pupils could play each other because they knew the rules regardless of their language. 

Waihi School headmaster Allan Short said chess was a sport where an eight-year-old could play a 17-year-old could play and have fun.

It was also good for developing reasoning skills and creativity, Short said. 

Chess Power coach and arbiter Bruce Pollard, of Auckland, said he tours New Zealand twice a year hosting chess tournaments. 

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The Timaru tournament had players from Fenwick School, St Joseph's Timaru School, Timaru Christian School, Opihi College, Ashburton College, Gleniti School, Mountainview High School, Waihi School, Winchester School and Roncalli College. A home schooled student also attended.

The tournament had four different divisions - senior, intermediate, junior and rookie. The tournament consisted of seven rounds and the learners enjoyed it, Short said.

St Joseph's School Timaru pupil Meray Morcos, 13 said she had been playing chess for a year: "It's fun and I'm good at it," she said. 

Roncalli College student Hamish Scarsbrook, 17, said his games had been "terrible, the competition is too good".

He took the sport up about a year ago and enjoyed playing it online. "It keeps the brain fresh, it's good stress relief.

"It's really good to see this amount of people here, it's pretty cool to see that chess is this big." 

Winchester School Rookie A team was first place in the rookie division, with team member Ethan Hole placing first in individuals. Waihi School - Junior A team was first in the junior division, with team member Luke Skinner placing first individuals, Waihi School - Intermediate A team was first in the intermediate division, with team member Lachie Short placing first in individuals. Ashburton College - Senior A team was first in the senior division, while Roncalli College - Senior A team member Reese Miller placed first in senior individuals. 

 - Stuff

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