Library opens doors to chess tournament

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Christine Gyapay, the head librarian at NWT Centennial Library, says an upcoming chess tournament is the result of people's interest in the game.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Christine Gyapay, the head librarian at NWT Centennial Library, says an upcoming chess tournament is the result of people’s interest in the game.

Everything will become black and white at NWT Centennial Library on March 19.

That’s black and white as in two opposing symbolic armies when the library hosts what it is calling its first-ever chess tournament.

“We’ve had library patrons suggest to us setting up chess boards or just having a drop-in chess time at the library, and that sort of led us to brainstorm and come up with the idea of a tournament,” said Christine Gyapay, the head librarian at NWT Centennial Library.

That has led to the creation of the Hay River Regional Chess Tournament.

Registration, which is free, opened on Feb. 19.

Gyapay said she has no idea how many players to expect for the tournament, based on participation in various other activities at the library.

“We never know,” she said. “In Hay River you never know who’s going to register.”

She said the participation numbers are also difficult to predict because there are three different age categories – 12 years and under, 13 to 16 years and 17 years and up.

The tournament is also being called a regional event, so there’s a possibility that people from outside of Hay River will participate.

“Who knows?” said Gyapay. “If someone is from out of town and happens to be in town on that weekend, you never know.”

One possible gauge of the interest has been the number of people at the drop-in chess sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays during February.

Gyapay noted that, for the drop-in session on Feb. 12, eight players showed up.

“So that’s a nice number,” she said.

One of the players has been Darin Krengnektak, who said he is looking forward to the tournament.

“I’m hoping there’s an abundance of players,” he said, adding he also hopes many chess players become aware of the tournament.

Krengnektak, who describes himself as a beginner chess player, noted he played some games recently and won most of them.

“So now I’m just waiting,” he said of the upcoming tournament.

Krengnektak said it is sometimes difficult to find people to play against when it comes to chess, so he is hoping the tournament will encourage more people to play in town.

Gyapay is encouraging people to register for the tournament, which would help the library prepare for the event.

The head librarian is looking forward to the tournament, which is also being sponsored by the Town of Hay River and the NWT Literacy Council.

“It’s another area where Hay Riverites have interest,” she said, explaining the library tries to offer activities and events which are of interest to the public.

The library has obtained a half-dozen new rollout boards for the tournament.

Gyapay, who doesn’t play the game herself, also noted a few new books on chess were also recently added to the library’s collection.

She said there is a possibility that the tournament will become an annual event if the first one is successful in attracting players.

“If it is that popular, we would be happy to try it,” Gyapay said of possible future tournaments.

The March 19 tournament will feature prizes for the top players. The prizes will be announced closer to the date of the event.

–Paul Bickford