by Madeleine Wattenbarger
Next Thursday, August 11, will mark the first day of a new partnership for Chestnut Hill. The prestigious Greater Philadelphia Junior Invitational Chess Tournament will take place here for the first time, sponsored by, among others, Bowman Properties and the Chestnut Hill Business Association.
O’Doodle’s will host the event in the store’s second-floor meeting room. The tournament begins August 11 with a single 5 p.m. match, and runs until Sunday. Two matches will take place each day, one beginning at 11 a.m. and one at 5p.m..
The eight best high-school-aged chess players in the Delaware Valley will play each other over the course of four days. Among those eight is Chestnut Hill resident Will Fisher, who tied for first in last year’s tournament. The winner will receive $2,000 in prize money provided by Bowman Properties and the Pennsylvania State Chess Federation.
Until this year, the tournament has taken place on the Main Line. According to former CHBA president Greg Welsh, the event found its new home in Chestnut Hill last summer, when Bowman Properties owner Richard Snowden discovered that the tournament’s former organizer was retiring.
Snowden, Welsh said, heard from Chestnut Hill Book Festival speaker Dan Heisman that organizers were seeking a new community organization to sponsor the event. Heisman, a chess writer, instructor and former champion, also sponsors the tournament. He serves as the Scholastic Chess Coordinator for Southeast Pennsylvania.
Spectators are welcome at each match: local chess fans can visit O’Doodle’s to watch the matches progress or stream the tournament online.
On Saturday, local chess fans can join in the chess play, too, as former chess champion Peter Minear leads two instructional sessions. Minear will teach beginner players from 11 to 11:45 a.m. and advanced players from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“This is chess’s version of the minor leagues,” said former Community Association President and Chess fan Tolis Verdakis “People should come out and see these young phenoms.”