Setting the board for interest in chess in Pictou County

John Brannen
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NEW GLASGOW – Don Bidgood has been playing chess for over 70 years. And while he still enjoys the thrill of strategy and gameplay, he’s more interested in mentoring youth to play the game.

Don Bidgood, a chess organizer, lifelong chess player and community volunteer, will give an informal, introductory talk on chess at the New Glasgow Public Library on March 26 at 7 p.m. SUBMITTED

For the last 19 years, he’s been running the Dartmouth Junior Chess Club. He’s hoping to spark some interest in Pictou County for a chess club.

The Pictou Antigonish Regional Library is inviting chess players of all levels of experience and ages to hear an informal, introductory talk on chess from Bidgood.

“It all started with a class for chess beginners which I ran last fall,” he said. “Two of the people who attended came from New Glasgow and the library got involved and said they’d support a chess club.”

According to Steven MacLean, community outreach assistant with Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, about 16 people replied to an email about joining a chess club.

“Some have rediscovered chess at a later age and some are youth interested in learning the game,” said MacLean. “There’s lots of strong, devoted interest in chess in this area.”

Bidgood was originally scheduled to speak back in January but the meeting was cancelled because of inclement weather. He’s more than happy to return to the county to share his knowledge.

“I’ve umpired for various tournaments and, over the course of time, I’ve played 1,700 games.”

In the course of his 19 years with the Dartmouth club, he has helped mentor four excellent players including one Grandmaster, a title awarded to chess players by the world chess organization World Chess Federation. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain.

“Many of the greats I’ve trained originated from abroad and have come to Canada as immigrants,” he said. “Looking at the surnames, a good number of good players have come from the Far East.”

Bidgood admitted that chess has never been a very popular game among Canadian youth. Though he noted some parents are realizing that skills in playing chess help children in their ability in math. It is also a social game, despite tense moments.

“Playing face to face is my preference, but bear in mind, I’m an old timer,” he said. “There’s a psychological aspect to chess. It’s a battle of minds, siting opposite the player you an put some on some psychological pressure.”

He noted that online chess is ideal in some situations, such as rural Nova Scotian chess players connecting with one another. It’s something he will touch on in his presentation.

“I will run a short introductory class to have the beginners gain the knowledge of the moves. Then they’ll be able to play demolition chess, which is quite fun.”

Bidgood will also be giving a brief history of chess, its spread from Indian merchants to the standardized game of today.

The presentation will take place on March 26 at 7 p.m. at the New Glasgow Public Library. Admission is free. For more information, call (902) 755-6031.

 

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

Organizations: Pictou Antigonish Regional Library, Dartmouth Junior Chess Club, World Chess Federation New Glasgow Public Library

Geographic location: Pictou County, New Glasgow, Dartmouth Canada Far East Nova Scotian

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