It was the 2014 Labour Day Weekend. The Bombers were coming to Taylor Field (apologies to the fine folks at the Mosaic Company, but it will ALWAYS be Taylor Field to me) and the city was beseeched by mangy mobs of Winnipeg Berserkers on their annual Pilgrimage to Regina. Couple that with the feverous Saskatchewanians bubbling with excitement over the return of one Weston All-Dressler All-the-time, something BIG was going to happen.
But the big football game was not the only game in town, as the city also hosted the biggest chess tournament in recent memory. Spurred on by the Downtown Regina City "excitement" planners, the Mcallum Hill Tower (sporting a spiffy and gigantic Rider Logo no less) in the heart of downtown Regina at Victoria Park, set the stage for the first ever (annual?) Downtown Pawn Push Chess Tournament.
Set in the lobby of the great tower and surrounded by glass walls, this event was intended to showcase high level tournament chess to the public who were frolicking about downtown eagerly anticipating the big football game, taking in the farmer's market just outside the glass tower, and enjoying one of the last days of summer.
It did not fail to produce.
Not quite the return of Weston Dressler, but one of Regina's most charismatic chess players also returned to action as the Man They Call Akeem hypnotized everyone with his jocular and exaggerated exclamations. Sadly his performance in the tournament did not match his Samaritan achievements in between games, as he became the official guide and escort to the washroom facilities - located one floor above the tournament, permanently locked and requiring a key - a key that was kept behind the counter in a nearby cafeteria, and involving a trip up in the elevator that required a completely different key to operate (also kept in the cafeteria). Akeem made sure that anyone who needed the washroom got there safely, but did not do such a good job keeping his chess pieces as safe. Let's just say his King wet his pants more than once (not really sure about Akeem's though).
The tournament had participants from not only Regina, but outside of Regina, and, from outside of Saskatchewan! Maybe they came for the football game and stayed for the chess... or maybe it was the other way around, as players from Moose Jaw, Ontario and Quebec signed up to push pawns downtown in the fancy glass tower.
Je m'appelle Francois Crepault showed he was no "Monsieur Thibault" as he finished third, tied with Tom & Jerry Young (who actually kind of looks like Tom, or Jerry... I always get them confused) with scores of 3.5. An all too fitting result in light of their animated and amusing 10 minute draw that evoked one of Jerry patented giggles.
The Machiavellian One, Little Rey of Sunshine Castillo posted a strong 2nd place finish, continuously playing shy and appearing lost and confused, but impounding his will on his opponents with ease, and like the Rider Fans do to the Bomber Pilgrims, without mercy. Mercy is for the weak - yes Sensei Rey.
Not to be confused with Tom & Jerry Young, Wiley Coyote Tom Boshoff showed that Bo may not know hockey, but Bo-shoff knows chess as he used the prickly-cactus attack and a couple of ACME rocket shots to leave his opponents looking like road runner kill while finishing with a very commendable score of 3 and taking the top UNDER 1700 honours. To celebrate his wiliness, he was seen heading towards Tim Hortons... maybe he gets free stuff too, like Dressler.
And since you can soon get an All-Dressler Ice Cream Treat, how does the Tom Boshoff "the Hook" Blizzard sound?
Not to be left out of the action on the podium, the Silent Assassin, aka, Andrew They Call me Bruce Li put up a very nice 2.5 against a very strong field, picked up 30 rating pts, and took home the top UNDER 1500 prize (which he is now ineligible to win) narrowly edging out Avram Tough Tcherni by a mere .5, but not too worry, as Avram also made the odium, taking the TOP JUNIOR prize as the other junior players, Stefan Kobiashi Cismaru (if you don't know, don't ask, it's a really obscure reference) and Nathan Fuller Brush (and if you get this one... that's kinda sad actually) failed to make the junior podium but made the all-world helpers podium.
Moose Jaw was well represented by the bash brothers of chess: Ryan Coke Donovan and his Sicilian partner Chris Gran Prix and their visit to the Queen City was highlighted by a celebrity death-match style game between the brothers bash. It was a dream (nightmare?) come true; for who wouldn't want to make the drive down the Trans-Canada to get to play with completely new people only to get matched up with the guy who you've played like 1000 games with back home? They travelled together from MJ, ended up with the same score of 1.5, but perhaps travelled a little less together on the return trip.
And what had to be the highlight of the tournament was truly the remarkable and commendable journey of Brandin Iceberg Ahead Titanich (that's pronounce Titanic, like the ship) as he retuned to tournament chess after a 10 year hiatus and blew away the field to take first place with a score of 5-0. And unlike the original Titanic that failed to survive its disaster, Brandin not only survived his disaster in the final round against Johnny Iceberg - droping a Rook in the opening, but actually sank John's boat with his Queen on board (or more correctly, off the board) and sailed off to the Championship Podium!
Perhaps a more fitting moniker may be Brandin Unsinkable Titanich.
Congratulations to Brandin and all the other podium players and thank you to everyone who came out to help make this a wonderfully successful and competitive event.
Finally thanks to the Downtown Regina Crew for all their fantastic work and help organizing, setting up, tearing down, cleaning up and keeping the tournament from getting wet from the rain... (ok, maybe that's going a little too far J
Hope to see you at, and have you read the write up for the 2015 Downtown Pawn Push.
Thanks to everyone who helped make the event a good time for all.
PS: And for the record, the Riders kicked the Bombers up and down and all around the turf of Taylor Field.
Green IS the Colour!
TD & Report