The Chess Club hosts a tournament at Colleen’s, 10 players challenge a visitor
It’ll be her move on Sunday when the Medford Chess Club reunites at Colleen’s in the square to kick off a simultaneous game pitting 10 local members against 11-year-old Kaiya Smits of Hollister’s Funky Owl Chess Club.
The young player will juggle 10 simultaneous matches against the local players.
“She loves chess,” said Elsie Smits, Kaiya’s mother of the young player who, when she was seven, was already ranked among the top 100 domestic players in her age group. And it all started with a chess app her mother downloaded to her iPad when she was six, along with a number of other apps, all of which were educational.
“There were math and language applications, and the chess application. I thought chess would help him with logic, ”said Elsie Smits. “I didn’t draw attention to it; I just dropped it on it.
Tripping over it, she did. Ahead of the girl’s next birthday party, Elsie Smits was discussing appropriate gifts for Kaiya and suggested a travel size magnetic game for a mom. This game turned out to be a chess board.
“When my daughter opened the gift she gasped,” Elsie Smits said, adding that her joy was evident on her face. They set up the tray, Kaiya insisting that she knew how to arrange the rooms.
“I played with it,” Elsie said, admitting it was a pretty pedestrian game. But a watching friend noticed that the girl was playing well. The chess board led to chess videos, the establishment of a chess club with several of Kaiya’s friends, and finally tournaments. Kaiya was only seven years old when she entered her first tournament.
When Elsie and her husband Patrick enrolled their daughter, they thought the whole experience would be over in 15 minutes.
“She got her butt kicked,” Elsie Smits said of the first round. But Kaiya persevered and ultimately won her match in the fourth round. “On the way home, she said she needed to watch more chess videos.”
On Sunday, the simultaneous tournament, called Simul, starts at 11 a.m. and is expected to run until 1 p.m. The tournament was hosted by Chris Donovan, founder of the Medford Chess Club.
“I want to bring a school chess club to the city,” Donovan said. He encouraged the city to purchase several more chess tables for Riverside Plaza where several tables have already been set up. Club members meet on Saturdays at 5 p.m. to play.
All are welcome on Saturdays.
“It’s something I do to try and build community,” said Kolin Burgoyne, owner of the local ice cream and dinner style dishes. “Restaurants have a chance to be more now, a place where people meet. “
Burgoyne hosted the Medford Chess Club which typically meets outdoors at Riverside Plaza on weekends, during the cold winter months, providing chess boards and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
“We started with three tables, now we have six or seven boards set up every Saturday with about a dozen young children and adults as well,” Burgoyne said. “Anytime I can fill the restaurant with people, it’s a good time.”
The dinner opens to the public on Sunday noon but open to players and parents at 11 a.m.