It turns out there are a couple of kings in the Huston-Earle family.
Brothers Joshua and Tyler Huston-Earle, students in Grade 4 and Grade 2 at Neil Campbell School, respectively, won their grade levels at the recent Manitoba Provincial Chess Championships held at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute of March 10 and 11.
For Joshua, victory is starting to become old hat, as this was his third title in the four years he has participated. He acknowledged he didn’t think 2014 would be his year prior to the competition, though.
"I didn’t have the best feeling going in, because two years before, I lost in it," he said. "I thought it was going to be a pattern of win-loss-win-loss, but I was able to win, so that was good."
But for Tyler, the achievement was a major one because it wasn’t just his first win — it was his first competition. He attended a chess camp over the summer to better learn the game, and was up to speed by the time provincials rolled around, knowing one competitor in particular would be a challenge.
"I thought he was going to win, but then I beat him, then I just beat the others," Tyler said. "No one else was as hard as him."
As the years have gone on, Joshua had upped his game considerably, opting for more effective openings he discovered through practising approximately five times per week.
Organizing teacher Kyle Donnelly, who teaches a Grade 3/4 split at the school, said the brothers’ success is coming at a high time for chess at the school. This is Donnelly’s second year teaching at the school, and he has already seen the club grow from 50 to 60 students — where it needed to be capped. The club serves students in Grades 4 to 6.
"With the winter being so cold, it was a great indoor recess activity to keep the minds sharp," Donnelly said. "This is just another opportunity for a group of kids who might not otherwise get to learn this game."
Donnelly said the game clearly helps to grow players’ problem solving and creative thinking ability.
"This is something they could have started at Neil Campbell, but continue on in the future," Donnelly said.
Other provincial champions from the River East Transcona School Division were École Centrale student Max Russo (Grade 3), Robert Andrews School student Ben Mazur (Grade 9), and Miles Macdonell Collegiate student Ryne Swift (Grade 10).
Winners will attend the nationals held right here in Winnipeg in May. Organizers are holding a pancake breakfast and blitz chess tournament at Gordon-King Memorial United Church (127 Cobourg Ave.) on April 12 to raise funds. Breakfast (beginning at 9 a.m.) is $8, the tournament (beginning at 11 a.m.) is $15, or both are $20. For more information, visit http://www.scholasticchess.mb.ca