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The best at chess show their hand

MORE than 100 young chess players gathered this week to see who was the king of checking kings.

The Tairawhiti Chess Tournament has been around since 2006 at Riverdale School. This year students competed in four pools to advance through to the finals.

Bella Hohipa from Nuhaka School won the event — the first girl to do so in more than half a decade.

Riverdale teacher Raniera Koia has organised the competition for the past few years. Bella’s ride to the final was intense, he said.

“She was up against the defending champion from Central School in the semi-final. That was a real thriller.”

There were 14 primary schools present, from as far as Te Araroa and Nuhaka, with schools like Te Kura o Hiruharama also making the journey to the city to play. Senior students made up the bulk of competitors but there were some juniors as young as five in the tournament.

Paiariki Chaffey from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Taonga Tuturu ki Tokomaru won the strategic thinker award. Home school student Orongo White won the best attitude award and Tui Cave from Ngatapa won the award for up and coming talent.

“Tui is a future talent to watch out for. We had lots of participation from girls this year — it was nearly half and half.

“It just shows that chess is growing on both sides,” said Mr Koia.

Rata Jamieson from Ormond School won the Gisborne Knights courage award.

“She really persevered and had a great day.”

To enter, schools held trials for their top team, with each competitor bringing a can of food for the Salvation Army food bank as an entry fee.

Students played 10-minute games. Mr Koia said if someone had not reached checkmate in that 10 minutes, the judges, the Eastern Knights, decided the winner.

“Rules are if you touch it, you move it. This teaches them to be strategic and to think before they act too.”

Schools like Nuhaka are old hands at chess, having placed in the top three at last year’s Chess Power Interschool National Finals junior division.

Some Nuhaka students were finishing their opponents off in under a minute or two and were then instructed to sit and coach so other students could improve.

Central and Nuhaka School have qualified for the Chess Power national event this year next month.






STRATEGY THE KEY: Makarika School student Lorenzo Vanderlem takes a moment to think about his next move while Kaia Allen from TKKM o Mangatuna goes for it at the back. Picture by Paul Rickard
WHAT TO DO: Nuhaka School's Pierson Tobeck exhales the tension as he makes his next move. Picture by Paul Rickard
NEXT MOVE: Patricia Tawera from Te Kura o Hiruharama makes her move on her opponent during yesterday's interschool chess tournament at Riverdale School. Picture by Paul Rickard
LOVING IT: Riverdale School student Shari Ratapu smiles, clearly enjoying her chess match on home soil. Picture by Paul Rickard
Chess Primary Tourney at Riverdale - Cody Willson (Makaraka)
Chess Primary Tourney at Riverdale - Ryan Luo (Central)
Chess Primary Tourney at Riverdale - Pharus Paewai (Nuhaka)