Youth participant Jeff Obexer plays a match en route to winning first place in the division.

Youth participant Jeff Obexer plays a match en route to winning first place in the division.

Chess open offers meeting of the minds

Nail-biting, face-wincing silence was the atmosphere at the Lakecity Chess Open.

Nail-biting, face-wincing silence was the atmosphere at the Lakecity Chess Open, where reigning champion and self-taught chess mastermind Kai Richardson, 13, was unseated by Quesnel rival Andrew Martin in the finals.

“We were huddled between the playing room and the washroom looking through the glass door watching Andrew and Kai play against each other,” said Kai’s father and tournament organizer, Scott Richardson, of the final match up. “I just showed up in that little hallway and was behind a few so couldn’t see the board. Then I heard someone whisper: ‘Andrew’s got him against the ropes.’”

In all, 24 youth and adult competitors travelled from Vanderhoof, Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Mahood Lake and Williams Lake for the third annual event, held at the Williams Lake Library.

Though tournament numbers were down due to illness and winter driving conditions in the north, Scott said the competitors who were there were mostly veterans from past Lakecity Open tournaments making it a more determined rivalry between players.

“You could hear a pin drop during the matches with both tournaments happening at the same time,” Scott said. “There is a trend the lakecity is establishing — starting at 10 a.m. with a 40-minute lunch (the tournament brought in pizza) and ending at 6 p.m., the event demands stamina and determination. The one-day event with six rounds and 30-minute time controls is a test of endurance.”

In the youth category, Scott said eight competitors played four games, with the top four playing off. Scott said there was a tie for second and a three-way tie for third so a few rounds of tie breaks were needed before the final rounds.

Jeff Obexer won two 30-minute tie breaks and then his two 30-minute playoff games to take the first place trophy and a paid entry into either the BC Open, Grand Pacific Open or the Paul Keres Memorial.

Scott said Matthew Martin, who had arrived at the final knock out rounds in first place, took the second-place trophy and a choice of paid entry into either the BC Open or the Paul Keres Memorial.

Scott said the tournament saw a lot of good chess, with all players being great sports.

Scott and his wife, Aki, started the Lakecity Chess Open three years ago so their son, Kai, had someone to play with.

“We have been trying to facilitate chess for everyone,” Scott said. “People think it’s an elite game but that’s not it. It’s a child’s game. It’s for kids.”

Self-described chess parents, Scott said watching their son develop and thrive in chess has been wonderful.

Currently, Kai is second place in his age class in B.C. until January, at which point he’ll be the number-one ranked player in his age group due to the first-place player aging out of the division.

Scott said Kai’s love for the game started from a discounted chess CD put in his stocking stuffer at seven years old.

“He just took off,” Scott said. “At eight, he won a game against an adult at a tournament and we’ve never looked back.”

Scott said the game has taught Kai many practical things, such as being a better problem solver and a gracious winner or loser.

Scott noted that living remotely — the family lives off the grid past the Rudy Johnson Bridge where they grow all their own food and Kai is homeschooled – is a disadvantage as far as getting to play chess goes, but makes up for it in other ways.

“We live in the bush, it’s a really great existence,” Scott said, who makes custom knives and carving tools for his business, Cariboo Blades. “Kai doesn’t mind (missing out on tournaments). Playing chess is great but growing up in the boreal forest is even better.”

Kai said he thought the Lakecity Open tournament was great.

“I’m glad it turned out well with lots of strong players from all around the Central Interior and a good friendly atmosphere for playing chess,” Kai said.

He also said he didn’t mind losing in the finals.

“I have played thousands of games and have lost just as many as I have won, and I think it’s a good thing that there are strong chess players promoting the game around here,” said the 13-year-old, adding he likes chess because it is challenging and a good way to meet people.

“You can meet people from all over the world playing it because unlike language, it’s universal.”

The Richardsons wanted to thank all the local businesses who donated prizes for the tournament.

Just Posted

RCMP officers on scene Friday, May 14 off Bond Lake Road on the outskirts of Williams Lake. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake RCMP investigating firearms incident near Bond Lake Road

Police officers were on scene Friday morning, May 14

An official naming ceremony for the Nekw7usem Bridge connecting the RC Cotton Trail to Scout Island will take place Monday, May 17 at noon. (Patrick Davies file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City, WLFN hosting naming ceremony for Nekw7usem Bridge in Williams Lake

The pedestrian bridge connects the RC Cotton Trail to Scout Island

Patricia Froberg (from left), Pat Mitchell and Dorothy Ouellette enjoy lunch prepared by members of the Old Age Pensioners Organization for St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday afternoon. Today, May 14, the Old Age Pensioners Organization Branch 93 and the Seniors Activity Centre are hosting an Old Fashioned Drive In lunch with car hop service at the SAC parking lot from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Old Fashioned Drive In Lunch on menu at seniors centre today, May 14

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., swing on by the SAC parking lot for an Old Fashioned Drive In lunch

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

(File photo)
Firearms investigation on Winger Road the result of increased gang activity: RCMP

When police attempted to stop a vehicle, it sped away

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Jonathan Prest had to climb way up to the top of a dead red cedar tree to rescue a terrified cat, but he made it up and down successfully. (Facebook photos)
Tree cutter rescues cat stuck 100 feet up a dead and dried-out cedar

Jonathan Prest put himself in extreme peril to get a terrified cat out of a dangerous situation

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Most Read