Langley Open welcomes chess champs

For centuries, two players have matched wits across a grid of black and white squares.

Chess attracts players young and old, of all skill levels, and this Labour Day weekend, it will bring dozens of players to Langley for one of the largest tournaments in B.C.

The Langley Open, organized by the Langley Chess Club, will welcome 40 to 60 players for an elimination tournament.

The annual tourney is about the third largest in the province, said tournament director Brian Davidson.

“I’ve been playing since I was five,” said Davidson.

Davidson said his family bought a chess board when he was young, and he became fascinated by the pieces.

He taught himself to play, and has kept playing for years.

Many other parents encourage their children to take up chess, hoping that it will give them mental discipline and aid in mathematical thinking.

That means that you can expect to see sights such as seven- or eight-year-olds facing off against adults at this weekend’s tournament.

“We take anybody,” said Davidson.

Canada isn’t a major hotbed of international chess, especially compared to places like Eastern Europe, noted Davidson, but there are a lot of good players here in B.C.

Some of the top chess players in the province are expected this weekend at Langley’s tournament. In the past, players such as Leoan Piasetski and Jason Cao, both international masters. Cao was the under-10 world champion in 2010, and the current B.C. champion and youngest ever provincial champ Tanraj Sohal has stopped by.

Langley’s Brian McLaren is a former provincial champion, and Mayo Fuentebella, another regular visitor, is a former Canadian speed-chess champ.

Regardless of who comes, everyone will start on an even footing when it comes to the Langley Open, said Richardson.

The Swiss-system event will start with everyone involved facing off in a series of games. They’ll then be paired up based on similarity of scores in their first games, with the number of players cut in half every round until the final match.

“You can wind up playing anyone,” said Davidson.

Scores are based on records of the moves made during each match.

As a local event run out of the Brookswood Seniors Centre, the project is a labour of love. However, the prize for winning the tournament is significant.

If there are more than 40 players paying an entry fee, the prize for first will be $2,000. There will also be prizes for best players rated under 2000 and 1700, and for the biggest upset.

The entry fee is $70 for players, but is free for highly-ranked players 2300 or above, and there is a family rate as well.

Round one starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30. Play continues through to a sixth and final round on Monday, Sept. 1, to start at 2 p.m.

Newcomers can sign up on the day of the tournament from 9:15 to 9:50 a.m.

Bring a chess board and timer if you want to participate.

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