CHE SS CHALLENGE
His opening move: Setting up a chess club at St Theresa’s School.
His middle game: Creating a primary school chess league spanning Porirua.
His endgame: Defeating his teacher and fiercest opponent – his mother.
Plimmerton schoolboy Toi Royal has chess fever, and is keen for it to spread. The eight- year- old signed up 18 of his schoolmates this term to join a lunchtime chess club at St Theresa’s, and is now keen for other schools to join in.
The aim is to have fun, gain skills and prepare players for regional and national tournaments next winter.
The club meets each Tuesday at lunchtime. Some members bring along their own chess boards and Toi’s mum Jen Deben coaches anybody waiting for a turn to play.
Most kids in the chess club are sporty, and the board game has appealed to them on rainy winter lunchtimes this term, Toi says.
‘‘It’s a game to play inside on a wet day,’’ he says. ‘‘I think they think it’s really fun.’’
When he’s not checkmating his mates, Toi is a keen soccer and tennis player, and gets a thrill from another tactical game, Rummikub.
All the chess club kids knew how to play when he recruited them, and are good opponents, he says. ‘‘They challenge me a lot.’’ The one person he has yet to beat is his mum, who taught him to play two years ago.
‘‘We have the saying ‘ always play to win but don’t be afraid to lose’. Toi’s never beaten me but we want him to work for it,’’ Mrs Deben says.
‘‘I think it’s a really intelligent game for kids. It teaches them strategy, structure and patience,’’ she says. ‘‘Chess is a battle, so you can see why sporty kids are drawn to it.’’
Mrs Deben encouraged Toi to take the lead in organising the chess club and league.
‘‘I thought it was a really cool way to bring the community together.’’
The chess league is open to pupils in years 3, 4, 5 and 6. Contact St Theresa’s School, 233 8093.
Checkmate: Eight-year-old chess
enthusiast Toi Royal hopes to establish a Porirua-wide primary
school chess league.