Wednesday will be a knight to remember in Ucluelet as Ukee Poke hosts an inaugural chess tournament on Feb. 15.
Event organizer Shaunece Labatiuk told the Westerly News that she moved to the community from Alberta last April “to have a new adventure and be closer to my family” and brought a love of chess with her.
“It’s such an old school game and people enjoy it because it has to deal with your mind. I love the game and I’ve been playing it for so long and I feel we should bring it back,” she said.
Labatiuk is no stranger to launching new programs, having founded her high school’s wrestling team, though this will be the first event she’s brought to her new community.
She said she thought up the idea and began meeting other local chess players and the idea for a tournament was hatched.
“After that it was just a matter of finding the space and coming up with boards and players,” she said.
“It was great to hear from David from Ukee Poke that he was so ecstatic to host this and loved the idea. That’s what really pushed me to get it going. It was really amazing and it felt really awesome to be welcomed so openly.”
David Schiaffino of Ukee Poke told the Westerly that he was delighted to help provide the venue for the tournament at his restaurant.
“I’m super stoked to promote healthy participation in events like this that we should have more of in town to join the community,” he said, adding he hopes to host other board game tournaments as an alternative to alcohol-related activities. “The town needs a diversity of gatherings and events.”
Labatiuk said about 20 players had signed up a few days prior to Feb. 12’s registration deadline and more are welcome to put their names in by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The more the merrier, I’m just excited that we’ve got that many people so far. I’m excited for whatever kind of turnout it turns out to be,” she said, adding she’s been thrilled to experience Ucluelet’s welcoming embrace throughout organizing the event. “I love the community vibe. It’s small, but we’re mighty…We’re able to make a lot of things happen within this town.”