The pieces are moving into position for chess star Kai Richardson, 12, as he prepares to travel to the Championships of French Speaking Countries in Montreal.
The internationally rated tournament, being held July 17-25, will feature chess players representing 25 countries totalling 170-plus players.
Richardson is currently the ninth-ranked player in Canada and the 451st ranked player in the world for his age group.
Making those stats all the more impressive is the fact that Kai lives off the grid in the Chilcotin with his parents, Scott Richardson and Aki Yamamoto, and doesn’t often get the chance to travel to internationally-rated tournaments.
“It is a challenge living in the Interior of B.C.,” said his dad, Scott. “Aki and I support him throughout the year but he is an exceptional player and needs additional support. Could be hockey, soccer, gymnastics or math — he trains with determination as an athlete.”
Kai recently picked up the sport of karate at Shogun Martial Arts and Scott said it has improved his chess play.
“His karate practice with Senseis Lee-Ann Lainchbury and Sheldon Lainchbury has influenced his chess,” he said. “He rose from the plateau he’s been on for the last year.”
Following the CFSC Kai will travel to compete at the Calgary International Chess Classic from July 29 to Aug. 3.
“He and Aki will return from Montreal on July 27 and stop in Calgary for seven days — nine games in five days,” Scott said.
“This is a very strong international tournament … Fide (international) rated, only 15 players so far, three of whom are Grand Masters from Israel and the U.S. and nine other masters looking for Grand Master norms.”
Scott noted the summer chess tour will provide valuable experience for Kai, who has competed just once internationally at the World Youth Chess Championships in 2014 in the United Arab Emirates.
“Kai is stoked and ready,” he said.
This year, the Richardsons are looking to raise funds to help pay for travel and accommodations in Montreal and Calgary.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Kai on his chess journey can do so by visiting http://kaichess.homestead.com and click on the Paypal donate button.
For the future, Kai has his sights set on the World Youth Chess Championship in Russia for 2016.