Over 50 West Coast chess lovers gathered at the Tofino Community Hall on April 23 to compete in the first annual Tofino Chess Open.
The event was organized by Chris Reitze and Susan Dyrchs who were so enthusiastic about Saturday’s turnout that they’re already preparing for the second annual competition slated for the spring of 2023.
“We wanted to add a new fun event to the community. Since we are really passionate about chess, we wanted to give all community members the opportunity to come together, experience the beauty of chess and share our enthusiasm for one of the most exciting games in the world,” they told the Westerly News in an email. “We talked with representatives of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust about it, who kindly supported us with a small neighbourhood grant right away which got us going, which was awesome.”
They added the competition included competitors from across the region as well as Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver.
Matt Dwyer took home the top prize followed by runner up Joshua Nobleman and Eddie Dyrchs, 9, taking the top spot for youth 13 and under by besting his little brother and the event’s runner up Rufus Dyrchs, 7.
“This was so fun!” Eddie added. “It’s so great to see so many kids playing chess.”
Reitze and Dyrchs have lived on the West Coast for roughly four years and have three children, two of which are ardent chess players.
Reitze had founded the Tofino Chess Club just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, forcing a pause, but he was thrilled to discover a vibrant group of local chess enthusiasts throughout the region.
“Seeing so many chess players coming out to play at the tournament and having so much fun together, I am sure we will resume shortly with the Chess Club,” the couple wrote, adding that anyone interested in signing up can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Chess is not always about winning. Sometimes it’s simply about learning. And so is life. Chess teaches us to play by the rules, take responsibility for our actions and how to problem solve in an uncertain environment. We believe these skills are needed in today’s world more than ever,” they wrote.
Winners took home prizes donated by a wide array of local businesses, including Storm Surf Shop and Mermaid Tales Bookshop with Tacofino and Pizzamoto supplying food at snacks at the event, which also found support from Tofino Kombucha, Tofino Brewery and Wolf in the Fog.
“We were so amazed by the fact that so many local businesses chipped in,” Reitze and Dyrchs wrote. “We could not be happier about the support and the turnout.”