The West

Chess mates crown country winner
Chess mates crown country winner

A Bunbury chess player was crowned WA’s country champion on the weekend but Bridgetown scored a strategic victory in hosting the South West Open tournament.

Most of the 29 players in the two-day event were from Perth and elsewhere, and stayed in town with their families, bringing in valuable business.

An atmosphere of fierce concentration prevailed in the civic centre as entrants including David Ellis, who writes a chess column for The West Australian, faced off.

Local chess buff Bert Reynolds, who has played the ancient board game for half a century, said it was a thrill taking on some of WA’s best.

‘‘It was an eye opener for us getting among the professionals,’’ he said.

Locals might not have topped the rankings but several won cash prizes in lower divisions, including the tournament’s youngest entrant, nine-year-old Morio Freeman. Bunbury’s Julian Painter scored five wins and claimed the championship title ahead of Robert and Natalie Maris of Perth, who were tied in equal second place.

After the excitement of the tournament, players reportedly wound down with a series of rapid-fire five-minute games before travelling home.

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