Nova Scotia will bring its chess game up to a whole new level this summer.
Pawn Wise: The Atlantic All-Ages Chess Festival, which runs at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, July 29 to August 2, has confirmed the participation of six Canadian International Masters: IM Jean Hebert, IM Leon Piasetski, IM David Cummings, IM Brian Hartman, IM Thanh Nha Duong, and IM Michael Barron.
Internationally, GM Eduardas Rozentalis of Lithuania and IM Maia Lomineishvili of Georgia are also registered to play.
The festival would have attracted even more top talent had it not been for the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India, which also runs this summer and grabbed three top players: Canadian GM Evgeny Bareev, the world’s top-rated women’s player GM Hou Yifan from China, and Indian prodigy GM Dommaraju Gukesh. All three have been selected to play in the Olympics for their national teams and will now not participate at Pawn Wise, as originally intended.
Chess Nova Scotia, the association organizing Pawn Wise, is still trying to bring in other celebrity chess players and hopes to make an announcement on that soon. The festival has raised over $5,000 from Chess Nova Scotia members and has received a significant corporate sponsorship from an Ontario logistics firm as well as a generous grant from the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors.
Among the 50 or more people already registered are players from Israel, India, and Pakistan. Organizers expect the festival to appeal to chess enthusiasts from Nova Scotia and throughout the Maritimes, as it will feature two tournaments – the Canadian Senior Chess Championships and the inaugural Nova Scotia Mayflower Open – and a keynote address by Jack de la Torre, from the University of Texas, a chess expert and leading authority on Alzheimer’s disease.
Pawn Wise will be a unique all-ages experience for chess players and visitors to Halifax alike, according to festival coordinator Roger Langen. It aims, he says, to put Nova Scotia on the map as a place for major chess events, not only in 2022 but in the years to come.
“Pawn Wise will be the largest and most significant chess event ever held in Nova Scotia,” says Langen. “Locally, it will be the first time that a chess festival has been built around the theme that chess is an all-ages sport. We’ve chosen the name, Pawn Wise, to highlight the fact that chess is an enjoyable, lifelong activity. We’ve created events that will celebrate our theme and show that playing chess is great for your brain and something you can pursue throughout your whole life.”