Bishop to king four. Checkmate!

New chess club being formed in Fort St. John; good way to meet friends, says the organizer

A newcomer to Fort St. John hopes to share his love of chess with the community.

Juno Gayle moved to the city from Edmonton just four months ago. A pilot by profession, he learned the popular pastime as a teenager in his home country of Jamaica.

“I used to play competitively as part of the high school team. I went to college and kept playing,” Gayle explained. “I quit for a while. after that, but I started again when I emigrated to Canada.”

While in Edmonton and Calgary, Gayle hosted a number of chess tournaments and plans to do the same here by starting a club.

“I think it’s a great way to meet friends. It was a way (for me) to get involved in the cities where I lived. I met many people who played chess.

He calls it a mind game.

“It keeps the mind active. I like to be physically and mentally active. Physically, I go to the gym and I get strong. Mentally, I like to read, do crosswords…anything that stimulates the mind,” he added.

“It’s a game you can continually get very good at.”

While many might believe that chess is only for academics or someone of advanced age, Gayle doesn’t see it that way.

“When (Hungarian chess player) Judit Polgar was 14, she became the youngest international chess grandmaster ever. Her father started teaching her chess at age four.

Like any sport or passion, practice makes perfect.

Although daunting at first, the game becomes much easier once you remember how each piece can move, as I discovered while playing my very first game of chess at age 56.

“So here on the front line are the pawns. Essentially, they are infantry,” Gayle described. “Then in the last row you have your rooks, your knights, your bishops, your king and your queen. You can continue to play without your queen but not your king.

“The name of the game is to trap your king in a position where he can’t move.”


For those wondering, I was told that I did very well on my first outing.

Although he won’t admit it, I like to think my longtime opponent was on the ropes at least once in the game.

Gayle is holding her first session tonight, July 21.

Depending on the answer, there should be enough chess mats and pieces for the curious and newcomers, but experienced players are welcome to bring their own sets, just in case.

Ideally, the plan will be to pair an experienced player with someone new or just learning.

Mind games take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at Brown’s Crafthouse.


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