Surrey chess mates master nationals
South Surrey chess prodigy Luke Pulfer, 10, has scored another first.
The South Meridian Elementary Grade 5 student placed first in his grade in the Canadian Chess Challenge 2014, held May 18-19 in Winnipeg, Man.
He was part of a 12-member B.C. team of students in grades 1-12 at the competition, the Canadian national scholastic chess championship.
B.C. placed third overall, but Surrey was well represented – in addition to Pulfer's first place, fellow Surrey students Joshua Doknjas (Grade 6) and Tanraj Sohal (Grade 12) also claimed the top spot for their respective grades.
It's the second first in the competition for Pulfer, also current Canadian Youth Champion, who was the top player in his grade three years ago when the challenge was held in Victoria.
"Luke was quite thrilled," said dad Robert .
"The smile on his face when he was presented with his trophy said it all – and the trophy is practically as big as he is."
Pulfer, who has been playing since he was five, also competed in the youth chess world championships in Dubai last Christmas, and also two years earlier when it was held in Brazil.
Both times he did well, and in the most recent tournament, showed he was capable of defeating a player who went on to second place, Robert said.
Sadly, although he's qualified for the world championships again – this year held in Durban, South Africa – he won't be competing.
Robert – himself a former Olympic cyclist as member of the national team – explained that, unlike some other countries, chess is not considered a sport in Canada,, and thus is not eligible for national sports funding.
"With no funding there's only so many events he can go to," Robert said, adding that the majority of national tournaments are held in Eastern Canada.
"So he won't be going to Durban, unless there's some chess fan out there who's willing to donate $10,000 for him to go."
As a consequence, Pulfer won't be competing in the lead-in Canadian Youth Championships again in Montreal in July, but the bright side is that he will be competing in a Canadian open championship immediately afterwards in the same city.
"It's a completely open championship, so he could be matched against players much older than himself," Robert said, noting that his son relishes thinking through and strategizing during games.
"He has the ability – if he stays with it – to be really quite good."