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Chess

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An official explains a chess installation by artist Luchezar Boyadjiev from Sofia, Bulgaria.

AMEL EMRIC / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

An official explains a chess installation by artist Luchezar Boyadjiev from Sofia, Bulgaria.

If I needed any reminder that time relentlessly marches on, it came in the form of a report from this year's Canadian Open in Ottawa.

After scanning the names of the winners in each of the categories, I saw the top senior prize was shared by Leon Piasetski. Top senior. I had to do a double take, because Leon's name is forever imprinted in my mind as a top junior.

Roll back time a few decades to when I was a pretty strong teenage chess player and Manitoba Junior champion. I qualified to play in the Canadian Junior championship, which meant travelling all by myself for the first time to Toronto. I took the train and starting looking for my accommodations at the YMCA.

The tournament was held at Hart House in the University of Toronto and it was an intimidating affair. Here were 10 of the best juniors in the country competing in a round robin tournament, and I began wondering what I was doing there. Succeeding at home was one thing, but this was going to be tough.

Leon Piasetski was already a powerhouse player and the favourite to win. He did, and went on to a successful career as an international master representing Canada in several Olympiad tournaments and even an Interzonal.

I finished seventh out of 10, but one of the highlights for me was my individual game against Piasetski. No one expected me to be competitive, but I managed to battle to a roughly equal position. It came down to his rook and four pawns vs my rook and three pawns, all on the same side. That's a theoretical draw, and we agreed to split the point.

I lost track of Leon over the years, but noticed he has started to play competitively again in recent years. Now that he is a senior champion, I wonder if we will ever meet over the board again, perhaps in some Old Fogey tournament in the future.

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The local chess world is saddened by the death of David Langner at the age of 45. He was a master, and one of Manitoba's best players.

David tragically lost his wife to cancer a year ago, and developed leukemia himself. He leaves behind a four-year-old daughter. David was a good friend. We played many casual games over the years. I will miss him.

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There are many important local events coming up in August, from a four-day junior chess camp to the Abe Yanofsky Memorial Tournament. All will be held at the University of Winnipeg. For details, check out www.chessmanitoba.com

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This week's problem: Mate in 2 (Thompson). Solution to last problem: White mates with 1.Kb2.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 D18

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