Bishops of Bowser photo The Bishops of Bowser is hosting the 9th Bowser Builders Open Chess Tournament on August 13 at the Bowser Legion. Last year’s open drew top juniors and senior players from the Island and the Mainland.

Bishops of Bowser to host 9th chess open

Annual tournament draws players from all over Island and Mainland

Chess is called the Game of Kings. It is not as exciting as the popular Game of Thrones on TV, but for those who love strategy, it might be a game you’d like to try and perhaps learn.

This game has been played for more than 500 years and if you’re looking for a group dedicated to this board game, the Bishops of Bowser Chess Club may be able to help you. It’s been around since 2008 and they play every Saturday at the Nordin Room at Lighthouse Community Centre in Qualicum Bay. They have around 50 members hailing from Nanoose Bay to as far away as Campbell River.

One of the club’s main events is their annual Bowser Builders Open Chess Tournament that often attracts competitive chess players from all over the Island as well as the Mainland. It is in its ninth year and is set to happen again on August 13 at the Bowser Legion Hall starting at 9 a.m.

“We have around 20 chess players come every year,” said tournament director Robert McFetridge.

“It’s a small tournament but we’ve had some very good players compete each year.”

Among those that have had their names etched on the memorial trophy is Victoria’s Jason Cao, who played in the first Bowser tournament when he was only eight years old.

“After he played here, Jason competed in the world championships and won the 10-and-under category,” said McFetridge. “He has been coming back to our tournament and has been on our trophy as well.”

Other top players that are expected to take part include Roger Petterson of Victoria, who has won the Bowser title a couple of times, and Michael Stanford.

McFetridge said they are excited to have one of its former members, Neil Cruden of New Zealand, come back to compete in the tournament. The former seniors New Zealand champion is the only Bowser member to have won the tournament.

Other Bowser club members that are expected to lead the local charge include Gary Russell from Parksville and Bruce Kylie from Qualicum Beach.

Chess does not garner a lot of attention in the media these days compared to the 70s during the cold war when the infamous chess genius Bobby Fischer of the United States beat Boris Spassky of the U.S.S.R. to become the first American world champion. It helped chess gain popularity at the time not only because of the marathon matches but also due to the political element.

McFetridge said chess is not an exciting spectator sport. But here on the Island, it is still played by many, he said, particularly in Victoria, which hosts one of the biggest chess tournaments in the country during Easter.

“Those people who love the game, they really get involved,” said McFetridge.

The club has tried to promote the game to young children but McFetridge said it has been a challenge.

“We put on a junior championship in our first year but the problem with kids is, until they are, say, 13 or 14 years old, they play what I call ‘baby chess,’” said McFetridge. “You can’t really run a tournament with people that don’t really know the rules. So I struggled with that in the past. I teach kids at the Bowser Elementary School during the season but it’s very difficult for the kids under 13 or 14 years to comprehend it unless they’re prodigies like Jason Cao. It’s difficult for me to understand how a young fellow like that could be so different from other kids and learn those complex concepts so quickly.”

Those wishing to enter the tournament can still register. The fee is $20 for early-bird registration, but after August 5 it will cost $25 and at the door on Aug. 13, it will be $30.

McFetridge said they are also inviting all ladies to enter and any rated player 2000 and above can play for free.

You can contact McFetridge at to register or call at (250) 757-8709.

For online registration go to

McFetridge said they want to thank Bowser Builders Supply for sponsoring the event over the years. They are funding the prizes that include historical design chess sets commemorating Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972 and the 19th Chess Olympiad in 1950.

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