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Father and son look to jump-start East Kings Chess Club with tournament in Wolfville

14-year-old Jonas Dornieden and father Ralf Dornieden of Wolfville Ridge are co-organizing a tournament to help get the East Kings Chess Club up and running.
14-year-old Jonas Dornieden and father Ralf Dornieden of Wolfville Ridge are co-organizing a tournament to help get the East Kings Chess Club up and running. - Kirk Starratt

WOLFVILLE RIDGE, NS - After several years without a club, the sport of chess is about to make a comeback in Kings County.

East Kings Chess Club members Ralf Dornieden and his 14-year-old son Jonas Dornieden of Wolfville Ridge are co-organizing a tournament for the club, which takes place at Acadia University’s Beveridge Arts Centre on Jan. 6.

Following a lengthy hiatus, a local club was recently re-established with Monday evening meetings at the Wolfville Library from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Members of varying skill levels practice playing against each other with and without a clock. There have been as many as 16 players taking part. The Dornieden’s hope those numbers grow to 40 or 50. Ralf said the Monday evening sessions are great for beginners just learning to play.

Chess can be a great social activity but can also be very competitive. Ralf said they moved to the area last year and Jonas has been competing in a lot of Nova Scotia Chess Association youth and adult tournaments in Halifax.

They thought it would be great to have an opportunity to play locally over the winter months. They met recently with another local player, Ian Anderson of Coldbrook, about establishing a club.

Jonas, a Grade 9 student at Horton, said they decided to hold a tournament to help jump-start the club. It’s all about getting people out and playing. He has heard a lot of people mention that they play chess but not in a club or organization.

Ralf said a lot of people are playing online these days, where there are some very good clubs and programs available.

“You can have chess lessons online and you can have everything online but it’s totally different psychology to play on board,” Ralf said.

Ralf, who started playing chess when he was in school, taught Jonas his first moves after Jonas expressed an interest around age 9. While living in Switzerland, Jonas got involved in a club and started playing in tournaments. Chess has been added to the first-grade school curriculum in Switzerland to help develop logical, strategic thinking with regards to mathematics.

“It gives you spatial thinking as well,” Jonas said. “If you do it long enough, you can make a picture of it basically and move the pieces and see ahead, calculate what’s going to happen.”

Ralf said he plays more of an intuitive game while Jonas tends to apply more of a strategic style.

“I love to play too but I can only defeat him (Jonas) when he’s tired,” Ralf said. “Otherwise, I’m more a sparring partner.”

Jonas said he enjoys math and has fun exploring and mastering the strategy and tactics of chess. In Switzerland, he won the equivalent of provincials in 2012. Last year, he won provincials here and went to the scholastic nationals in Toronto, Ontario, in May. He also competed in an open national tournament in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, this year. Jonas said what he enjoys most about chess is challenging himself to improve.

Ralf said local businesses have been very supportive in terms of donating items for tournament prizes. Chess shops from as far away as Toronto have been sending books and other items. Money from registration fees will be invested in chessboards and clocks for the new club.

Next summer, players will be at the Wolfville Farmers Market on Wednesday evenings with demonstrations and other initiatives to help promote the club.

Jonas said it feels really good to have so much support as he, his father and others work to re-establish organized chess in Kings County.

If you go

  • The tournament takes place at Acadia University’s Beveridge Arts Centre, second floor, room 207, on Jan. 6.
  • There will be early bird registration up until the day before the event and on-site registration on Jan. 6 from 8:30 to 8:50 a.m. The cost for early bird registration is $15 for youths and $20 for adults. On-site registration is $20 for youths and $25 for adults.
  • The mode of play will be seven rounds, Swiss system, with 25-minute per player sudden death time control.
  • The first round will be played at 9 a.m.; the second round at 10 a.m., the third at 11 a.m. and the fourth at 12 p.m. There will be a lunch break at 1 p.m. and play resumes at 2 p.m. with the fifth round. Round six will be played at 3 p.m., the seventh round at 4 p.m. and prizes will be awarded at 5 p.m.
  • For more information and early bird registration, contact Jonas Dornieden at

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