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Regional chess winners to advance straight to national showdown


“No more Toronto.”

That’s how John Rutherford, co-ordinator of the sixth-annual Corel’s Northwestern Ontario Schools’ Chess Championships, described what was eliminated for regional chess winners thanks to a motion passed at the annual meeting of Ottawa’s Chess Federation of Canada in July which gives Northwestern Ontario “provincial” status.

And that means, for the first time, students who finish first in their age division at the regional finals Oct. 21 in Thunder Bay will be able to bypass the provincial competition in southern Ontario and advance right to the national showdown.

The next national championship is slated July 3-7, 2001 at Mt. Allison University in Sackville, N.B.

“It’s exciting!” Rutherford enthused yesterday while en route from a regional tournament in Kenora.

Local elementary and high school students will have their shot at a chance to compete in Thunder Bay when the local competition gets underway tomorrow at 9 a.m. in the library at St. Francis School.

Players will compete in six age categories--nine and under, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15, 16-17, and 18 and over.

Fort Frances is one of 19 towns and cities across Northwestern Ontario to hold tournaments. Rainy River held theirs today at Riverview School, with tournaments also slated in Dryden on Oct. 3 and Atikokan on Oct. 4.

Rutherford had crusaded for “provincial” status for Northwestern Ontario for some time. With it now in place, the ball already is rolling to get details ironed out for a bus trip for the 15 female and 15 male regional qualifiers who will head to the national finals.

“It will be an eight or nine-day trip [and] we will be fundraising for it,” Rutherford noted, estimating the overall cost at about $30,000 for the 30 kids, two coaches, and four chaperones.

“The nationals are one step away from the world chess championships in Spain [next fall]--and that’s an all-expenses paid trip for a child and their parent,” he added.

Registration for the tournament here goes from 9-9:30 a.m., with the entry fee being $10. The first game will be underway by 10 a.m. and everybody plays five games.

Prizes will be awarded following the day’s competition.

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