The game of chess is not easy.

It was never meant to be.

Fifty-five elementary and middle school students from the greater Oromocto and Fredericton areas, and 32 high school students from throughout the district qualified to compete in districtwide chess tournaments in February.

“It’s a challenging game to improve at, requiring mental focus and agility,” said Derrick Grant, ASD-W Subject Coordinator for Grade 6-12 Numeracy Education.

And Grant should know. He, ASD-W Numeracy Education Subject Area Coordinator Mary Anne Reynolds, and Teacher Emily Jarvis coordinated districtwide chess tournaments on Tuesday, February 14, for elementary and middle school students and Thursday, February 16, for high school students, at Fredericton’s The Ville Cooperative community centre.

In the weeks leading to the tournament, schools held their own tournaments to determine their two best players. In the end, 55 elementary and middle school students from the greater Oromocto and Fredericton areas, and 32 high school students from throughout the district qualified to compete.

“The players at the tournament really enjoy playing the game with the added pressure of competition,” Grant said, “and you can see the effort on the students’ faces when they are playing.”

The 55 elementary and middle school contestants produced 12 champions:

  • Grade 3 Gold: William Sidik—Connaught Street School
  • Grade 3 Silver: Miles Rajput—Garden Creek School
  • Grade 4 Gold: Dev Venkatesan Boobas—Garden Creek School
  • Grade 4 Silver: Nolan Sherrard—Royal Road Elementary School
  • Grade 5 Gold: Avery Richardson—Gagetown School
  • Grade 5 Silver: Charlie Coy—Gagetown School
  • Grade 6 Gold: Ben Nguyen—Devon Middle School
  • Grade 6 Silver: Brian Nguyen—Nashwaaksis Middle
  • Grade 7 Gold: Chris Kozlowski—Bliss Carman Middle School
  • Grade 7 Silver: Griffen Stymist—Devon Middle School
  • Grade 8 Gold: Rory Mullaly—Bliss Carman Middle School
  • Grade 8 Silver: Fifi Chen—George Street Middle School

Eight high-school champions were whittled down from a field of 32:

  • Grade 9: Gold:   Danh Ngyuyen—Leo Hayes High School
  • Grade 9: Silver:   Jiayi Zhou—Fredericton High School
  • Grade 10: Gold:   Lachlan Moore—Southern Victoria High School
  • Grade 10: Silver:  Jacob Connors—Leo Hayes High School
  • Grade 11: Gold: Jacob Cheng—Fredericton High School
  • Grade 11: Silver: Minh Tran—Leo Hayes High School
  • Grade 12: Gold: Max Yang—Fredericton High School
  • Grade 12: Silver: Aiden Hickey-Carrier—Fredericton High School
Students participating in one of the district chess tournaments in February, at Fredericton’s The Ville Cooperative community centre.

“We embrace how this game elevates confidence, increases focus and develops problem-solving skills,” said Reynolds. “This year, our goal was to bring the love of the game back for students to compete at a district level face-to-face and allow the passion of the players to fill the room while making new friends.”

Grade 9 student and tournament silver medalist Jiayi Zhou was modest about her accomplishment but grateful for the opportunity to participate: “I felt anxious about my lack of practice, but I remained composed during the tournament. Despite finishing second, I’m grateful for the valuable experience gained.”

“From the district perspective, we want to provide an opportunity for our best players to be recognized, and at the same time, encourage chess playing at the school clubs so that many students can have a chance to learn more about chess no matter what their level of play,” said Grant.

Jarvis, whose chess players maintained their skills by practicing throughout the Covid pandemic, said students were encouraged by the competition.

“I already have questions coming in from our [chess] club about the next opportunity to compete, so this was a positive experience for sure,” she said.

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