Sarnia school hosts over 200 young chess players (GALLERY)

Kings, queens, knights and pawns took center stage at Trinity Primary School in Sarnia on Tuesday.

The St. Clair Catholic School District hosted its 34th Annual Chess Tournament with more than 200 students from more than a dozen schools participating.

Organizer Chris Vaillant, the board’s French teacher, said chess was a great learning tool.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to showcase their problem-solving and critical thinking skills,” he said. “It gives these students an opportunity to represent their school in a way that maybe they haven’t had the opportunity to do before.”

Vaillant said that in every game, players are faced with challenges and problems that they have to solve.

“So in every school we usually have a chess club, which is a great activity for the students to do in the cold winter months when we might not be able to go outside, so it gives those students an outlet ,”He said. “It’s kind of a culmination that they can finally use those skills that they might have honed over the winter, and they can come here and use them.”

Vaillant said each school brought its own small selection of boards. He also said there was a lot of volunteer time at the game.

“Teacher hours are already put into it, all the teachers are running the clubs, and then the administrators are just running the whole operation at the host school,” Vaillant said. “So it’s always going to be a huge undertaking to bring all the students in the county to one school.”

Vaillant said the board has grown the program so much that they now divide the tournament into North and South. A solo game will be played in Chatham on Thursday.

There are also separate women’s divisions and scoring systems for each game, Vaillant added.

“Because we really want to encourage women to participate in activities that are usually dominated by men,” he said. “So we wanted to bring a little light to it.”

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