Alberta Women’s Chess Championships this weekend

By Curtis J Phillips

The Kings of Kings and Queens of Queens are coming to Fort McMurray for the 2013 Alberta Women’s Chess Championships and the inaugural Fort McMurray Chess Club Open Tournament July 6-7, 2013.

To be held at Chez Dube Country Inn, adjacent to Borealis Park, a total of 30 competitors have registered at the time of this writing Monday July 1, Canada Day.

In attendance will be two international masters Richard Wang and Edward Porper, both from Alberta and competing in the open.

Wang, 14, became the second youngest in Canadian chess annals at the age of 13 last year at the Canadian Closed Chess Championships. He is ranked No. 1 in Canada in Under 16 age groupings and No. 30 overall in the world in the same category.

He captured two bronze medals at the 2009 World Youth Chess Championships in Antalya, Turkey.

Porper, a member of Canada’s 2012 Olympic team, shared the Alberta open titles in 2011 with Nenad Ristovic and Roy Yearwood while in 2012 it was with Jeff Reeve.

Porper has also claimed titles in major competitions in Austria, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

Two national masters will also be making their moves with Robert Gardner and Vladisav Rekshon.

There will be eight local competitors in the open which has 17 entries.

At last year’s Alberta Women’s Chess Championship there was originally only three entrants. A fourth joined in with coaxing from Fort McMurray Chess Club president and competitor Jina Burn.

“There was myself and another lady from Fort McMurray and Nicka Kalaydina (from Calgary and eventual winner beating Burn),” said Burn, who in only two short years has boosted the FMCC into provincial prominence. “I convinced her (Kalaydina) mother to play and make it four.”

Of women’s chess Burn added, “Women’s chess is not that popular in Alberta. Overall the game of chess is considered more for man to begin with.

“But I’m proud to say that we have 13 women registered so far (eight local) which is more than any other tournament.”

Kalaydina, a three time champion, will be in attendance to defend her title.

With more than $7,000 in prize monies, the event starts Saturday with rounds at 10 am, 2 pm and 6 pm and continues Sunday at 9 am with the finals to follow.

Games are open to the public.

“Come and watch,” said Burn. “It’s interesting to watch (games up to three hours) and it’s so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.”

The public may also meet Wang and Proper Friday July 5, 2013 at the Fort McMurray Public Library at 7 p.m. where they will talk about chess and sign autographs.

Yes, chess players have fans!

There will also be a Giant make that MEGA Chess board and pieces for the public to play starting at 4 pm in the library foyer. Also the winner of the door prize will have a chance to play Wang on the giant board.

We missed this one last week due to deadline but the big news is that MacDonald Island Park in partnership with the Fort McMurray Oilsands Curling Club will once again be on the national radar with the March 2014 hosting of The National which is part of the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling.

The four-day men’s event will be televised from coast-to-coast-to-coast on Sportsnet.

The National is part of the World Curling Tour which also includes The Masters Grand Slam of Curling, Canadian Open of Curling and The Players Championship.

To be held at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre, this years The National was held in my wife’s hometown of Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia with the Jeff Stoughton rink winning.

Leading the tour to date are the Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard and Wayne Middaugh rinks respectively.

This is the second time for the World Curling Tour to land in Fort McMurray as we hosted The Players Championships in 1998 with Martin rink sweeping to top spot.

Catch you on the rebound