27th May 2018
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Lewis Chessmen-inspired competition revives local interest in game

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The junior chess competition at Shetland Museum on Saturday was a great success and has been credited with giving chess a bright future in Shetland.

The five-round tournament was played with a professional and enthusiastic attitude from the young competitors. Michal Samek from Lerwick scored a maximum five points and was the overall winner. He was presented with a specially-commissioned trophy and £60 prize money. James Riise from Bixter and Lindsay Garrick of Tresta were joint second with four points each in a very close competition.

The competition was held in association with The Lewis Chessmen: Unmasked exhibition and sponsored by Inksters Solicitors. Brian Inkster was Shetland junior chess champion and joint Scottish under-17 champion in 1982.

Thirty-two children from all over Shetland took part in the event with an age range of primary six through to secondary four. Ken Beer, Derek Hughson and Jan Riise, all Shetland champions of the 1970s and 1980s, acted as arbiters.

Mr Beer, the chief arbiter, said: “I have controlled dozens of tournaments in Shetland over the years but this was the biggest and the best, and I want to hold more. The competitors were a joy to work with and the standard of chess was impressive.

“I have no doubt that we can develop a junior chess team over the next year or two that will rival or surpass the exploits of the 1980s when Shetland players habitually won national tournaments. Shetland chess has a bright future, thanks to the initiative of the staff at Shetland Amenity Trust and the touring Lewis Chessmen exhibition.”

Mr Riise said: “A community chess club is absolutely necessary to capture the enthusiasm of Saturday. For me the telling feature was parent/child engagement throughout the day. I really feel a solid foundation has been established, among a genuinely engaged and supportive group.

“Who would have thought a couple of months of some rather special artifacts resting in our museum would have generated this resurgence of chess interest?”

The winners of the junior competition have been invited to participate in the senior competition to be held in Shetland Museum this weekend. Entry is open to anyone over 15 and there are still limited spaces available. Details can be found at www.shetlandmuseumandarchives.org.uk

A spokeswoman said Shetland Amenity Trust and Shetland Museum were grateful to Inksters Solicitors and The Kildrummy Corporation Limited who had supplied sponsorship funding to purchase chess sets and clocks in addition to the prizes for the competitions.

The senior competition will be held in Shetland Museum on Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

The Kildrummy Corporation Limited has sponsored the senior competition and cash prizes of £150, £50 and £30 will be presented. Shetland Amenity Trust has also donated a full replica Lewis chess set for the winner.

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