Chess players vie to be champion of the South Island

The South Island Chess Championship is under way in Christchurch.

There are 56 players from across New Zealand competing to claim the title. Only New Zealand players who are members of a South Island club can win the 'Bledisloe Cup'.

The first South Island championship was held in 1950 and organiser Craig Hall from the Canterbury Chess Club said the tournament grows in popularity each year.

"A lot of people took up online chess during Covid because it was something you could do online.

"You didn't have to leave home to do that and some of that has transferred back to over the board and things like the Queens Gambit (TV show) a few years ago also got some people involved."

The open tournament has a mix of adults and junior players aged under 20.

Players from across the country are competing at the South Island Chess Championship in...
Players from across the country are competing at the South Island Chess Championship in Christchurch this week. Photo: Emily O'Hagan
Corby Allison, 15, is one of the youngest Christchurch competitors in the championship.

He is on a mission to win as many games as he can and says he enjoys the challenge of the game.

"This tournament is probably the hardest tournament I've played in, like with the highest ratings of people so it's like really good to play people who are like higher levels so you can see how good they are."

The four-day tournament has two rounds of matches each day, following strict rules provided by the International Chess Federation.

Retired professor, Dr Roger Nokes, is a Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) master and has won the South Island champs three times. He says the game develops a range of universal skills.

"Chess encourages you to have strong concentration, to be persistent, to be able to see patterns, to be able to memorise things, to be able to problem solve."

The tournament runs until Saturday at Christchurch's Multicultural Recreation and Community Centre on Hagley Ave.

- By Emily O'Hagan, made with the support of NZ On Air